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The Nation Celebrates Obama Inauguration

Barrington Salmon & Sam P.K. Collins | 1/23/2013, 1:02 p.m.

Runkel, who studies at the Peabody Conservatory, expressed glowing admiration for Obama.

"He's such a dignified and respectful man. I think it's an honor to have him as president."

The California native came with her husband David, 26, and friend Mary Trotter, 27. The trio said they enjoyed their trip but complained about not being able to hear the Jumbotron.

"The TVs weren't working and the audio was in and out. About 200,000 people started booing at the screen," Runkel said with a laugh.

"... we saw and we heard some but not too much," Trotter interjected.

She spoke of the sense of history she felt.

"I will probably never do this again. Mostly, it's because it's MLK Day," said Trotter referring to the national holiday set aside on the third Monday of every January to honor the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. "I wanted to be here, feel the energy and see what it was like."

Lorenzo Matthews, a 57-year-old engineer from Philadelphia, Pa., traveled to the District at 1 a.m. with his family. He saw the swearing in from the Mall and trekked to Indiana Avenue in Northwest to watch the parade.

"It seems like a lot of folks are joyous about the inauguration. I enjoyed it myself," he said. "At the time of the last inauguration, I had young kids at home so we couldn't come down. Now they're older."

Matthews outlined some of his hopes for Obama's second term.

"I think he did as well in the first term as I had expected him to do given the Congress he was dealing with. I'm really concerned about taxes and who gets taxed. I also think everyone should have access to health care. While I'm fortunate enough to have insurance, there are some people who are not."

"In the second term, I hope [he] pushes through the things ... on his agenda but I want him to deal with education and the housing market."

Kayle Rodgers, a cashier at Starbucks in one of the court buildings downtown, left work at around 3:45 p.m. to catch a glimpse of the crowd.

"It has been a really good vibe around here. Everyone is excited," said Rodgers, a Salem, Ore., native who has lived in the District for five years. "Yesterday was very touristy so it's good to see Washingtonians just walking around. It's nice to see everyone come together."

Kara Franz and Jenn Molay looked like America's twins. The pair wore Carnival beads, sunglasses, hats and leg warmers adorned with red, white and blue.

"The excitement of the city brought me out today," said Franz, 26, with a laugh. "It's been great so far."

Molay, 26, said they have enjoyed several inaugural events over the past nine years.

"[But] we decided to dress up this year," she said. "We had fun shopping for our beads, hats and sunglasses."

Patricia Martin, a 77-year-old retired Winston Salem State University employee, gushed about Obama and the symbolism of his presidency.

"This is my first experience. I stood in line for about 2 1/2 hours but missed seeing the swearing in," said Martin. "I feel excited, so excited. It's hard to explain. I'm sorry it took so long. I never, never thought I'd lived to see this day."

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