National Day of Service Marks Start of America’s Inaugural Weekend

Posted January 19th, 2013 at 6:50 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama launched America's inaugural weekend in Washington Saturday at a local school, as the capital city made final preparations for the president's public swearing-in on Monday.

Mr. Obama and first lady Michelle Obama donned work clothes to help spruce up an elementary school, as part of a series of national service events organized by the inaugural committee. The Obamas launched the inaugural weekend practice of a National Day of Service four years ago.

As the First Couple stained school bookcases and Vice President Joe Biden and wife, Jill, assembled care packages for troops, workers at and near the U.S. Capitol finished constructing inaugural stands and seating stretching toward the National Mall for special guests.

Officials predict as many as 800,000 people will attend Monday's public ceremonies — an estimate larger than Washington's population but considerably smaller than the 1.8 million people who packed the city four years ago to mark the start of the president's first term.

President Obama's second term officially begins with the oath of office taken at noon on January 20, as specified in the U.S. Constitution. Because the 20th falls this year on a Sunday, he will retake the oath on Monday, which coincides with the federal holiday marking the birthday of slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

At the public event, the president will take the oath of office with his hand placed on two bibles, one owned by 19th-century president Abraham Lincoln, the other by King, who was assassinated in 1968.

Mr. Obama's inauguration on Monday will be followed by a parade and a series of parties.