On Jan. 20, 2009, Barack Obama was sworn in as president of the United States. Obama took his place as the 44th president under a bright winter sky, painting this perilous national moment in unsparing terms and exhorting Americans to respond by taking greater responsibility for themselves, the country and the world. More than 1 million people flocked to the National Mall to take part in the event, spilling outward from the gleaming white Capitol steps toward the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial more than a mile away.
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Amid bleak times, a bright day for U.S.