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A whirlwind of inaugural pomp and circumstance

Today, as the nation pauses to remember Martin Luther King Jr., it awaits the stunning event King never lived to see: the first African-American president taking the oath of office.

In what President-elect Barack Obama has called "a day of service" in the hopes of ushering in a new era of volunteerism, millions of Americans will use their day off to give back to the community. Obama, Vice President-elect Joseph Biden and their families have said they expect to take part in some of the community service events scheduled around Washington.

But it won't be all work and no play in the nation's capital, where the whirlwind of inaugural pomp continues. A kids' concert tonight will honor military families. Obama will host three bipartisan dinners, honoring Biden, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Sen. John McCain.

And across the country and the world, millions are anticipating tomorrow morning's ceremony where, continuing a tradition started with George Washington in 1789, the nation's newly elected leader will solemnly swear to "faithfully execute the office of the president of the United States and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, defend, and protect the Constitution of the United States."

Record numbers of onlookers continue to pour into Washington, with crowds at tomorrow's inauguration expected to be as high as 2 million.

And here on Long Island, in African-American churches and elsewhere, inspired supporters will celebrate the realization of at least some aspects of King's dream of equality.

That dream is summarized by rapper Jay-Z in a quote he repeated in addresses throughout the campaign: "Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther King could walk. Martin Luther King walked so Obama could run. Obama ran so we all can fly."

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