Obama calls for commitment to service

advertisement | advertise on newsday

WASHINGTON -- On the eve of a second term, President Barack Obama invoked Martin Luther King Jr.'s commitment to service Saturday as inauguration-goers flocked to the capital for a distinctly American celebration and partying enough to last four years.

"I think we're on the cusp of some really great things," Vice President Joe Biden predicted for a country still recovering from a deep recession.

Freshly built inaugural stands at the Capitol gleamed white in the sun, and hundreds of chairs for special guests were set out on the lawn that spills down toward the National Mall.

The president spoke at an elementary school not far from the White House after he and first lady Michelle Obama stained a bookcase as part of a national service event organized by the inaugural committee.

"We think about not so much the inauguration, but we think about this is Dr. King's birthday we're going to be celebrating this weekend," the president said.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

"He said everybody wants to be first, everybody wants to be a drum major. But if you're going to be a drum major, be a drum major for service, be a drum major for justice, be a drum major for looking out for other people."

Because the date for inauguration set in the Constitution, Jan. 20, falls on a Sunday, Obama and Biden were to be sworn in in separate, private ceremonies Sunday. The public ceremonies are set for Monday, when Obama will take the oath of office at noon, then deliver an inaugural address.

But Saturday, politics seemed to edge ever so slightly into the background in the most political of cities. Biden and his wife, Jill, spent time at an armory pitching in, as volunteers packed 100,000 care kits for deployed members of the military, wounded warriors, veterans and first responders.


Newsday.com now uses Facebook for our comment boards. Please read our guidelines and connect your Facebook account to comment.

You also may be interested in: