WASHINGTON – Families who knew Barack Obama in his hometown, Chicago, couldn’t stay away Monday when he took the oath for his second inauguration.
Spencer Gould and his wife, Ardenia, arrived at the Capitol early enough to get seats in front of where the president took the oath of office.
“We have worked on all of his campaigns,” said Gould, 38. “We go back to when people couldn’t pronounce his name. It has been such a great experience to watch him go from someone no one knew to a world leader.”
Ardenia, 37, said the inaugural ceremony seemed more subdued than the electrifying experience of 2008.
“I feel vested in his success,” she said.
In Obama's next term, she said, she would like to see the president use his power to push his policies through.
“I want to see him flex his political muscle and move this country in the direction it needs to go, regardless of what happens on the other side of the aisle.” she said.
Leon Rockingham Jr., mayor of the city of North Chicago, also attended.
“Four years ago, we not only elected a black president but it proved to us that anyone can step up and make change,” said Rockingham. “Being on Rev. Martin Luther King’s birthday brings a different aspect. We aren’t there yet, but it shows that King did make a difference.”
He touted some of the president's accomplishments during his first term despite the fighting in Congress. Healthcare reform, ending the war in Iraq and hunting down Osama bin Laden were important for the country, said Rockingham.
“Gun control is a tough issue,” he said. “I’m glad to see that the president has put it on his radar.”
Neli Vazquez-Rowland, president of A Safe Haven, a Chicago program for the homeless, called Obama's second term a time to move forward on urban issues, including poverty and violence in Chicago.
"Oh my God, I am moved beyond tears to see that we've got an administration that cares about supporting people in crisis," said Vazquez-Rowland.
Andre Watson, 31, a Northwestern University graduate, flew in from Germany attend his first inauguration.
“I came to witness history and to see the president,” he said. “I just wanted to be part of this history.”