Jan 21, 2013 / 6:20 am
Barack Obama faces a smaller crowd, and a more subdued country, on Monday as America's first black president marks the beginning of his second term and repeats the oath he took in a private ceremony the day before.
In his inaugural address to millions watching in Washington and on television, Obama will urge lawmakers to find common ground and will look forward to goals over the next four years, including comprehensive immigration reform, stricter gun control laws and an end to the war in Afghanistan.
"What the inauguration reminds us of is the role we have as fellow citizens in promoting a common good, even as we carry out our individual responsibilities that, the sense that there's something larger than ourselves, gives shape and meaning to our lives," Obama said during brief remarks to donors at a reception Sunday night.
The politician who rose improbably from a history as a community organizer in Chicago and a professor of constitutional law to the pinnacle of power faces a nation riven by partisan disunity, a still-weak economy and an array of challenges abroad.
Obama also faces a less charmed standing on the world stage, where expectations for him had been so high four years ago that he was given the Nobel Peace Prize just months into his presidency. "Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future," the Nobel announcement in 2009 read.
The president, First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia began the day at St. John's Episcopal church, which was built in 1812 and is known as the church of presidents. It sits just across Lafayette Park from the White House. The first family was welcomed by Rev. Luis Leon.
Monday's events, including parades and fancy dress balls, are expected to have less of the effervescence of four years ago, when the 1.8 million people packed into central Washington knew they were witnessing history. Obama is now older, greyer and more entrenched in the politics he once tried rise above. Officials are expecting 500,000 to 700,000 people to turn out Monday.
Obama is expected to follow the recent tradition of walking at least part of the way back to the White House.
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