Thousands tap their feet as Obama celebrates ‘American renewal’January 19th, 2009 - 12:40 pm ICT by IANS
Washington, Jan 19 (IANS) The National Mall park in the US capital was flooded by tens of thousands of people as a star-studded concert, which included performances by Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Shakira and U2, marked the beginning of the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th American president.”Welcome to this celebration of American renewal,” Obama said as the concert began at the Lincoln Memorial Sunday afternoon.
Bruce Springsteen opened the “We are One: Opening Inaugural Celebration” with his song “The rising”, singing: “How far I’ve gone/How high I’ve climbed/On my back’s a 60 pound stone/On my shoulder a half mile line.”
Along the National Mall, between the Capitol and the Washington Monument, people watched the concert on massive screens and sang along with “America the beautiful” and “This land is your land”.
During U2’s performance of “Pride (In the name of love)”, a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr., frontman Bono referenced the civil rights leader’s “I have a dream” speech, saying that it was also “an Irish dream, an European dream, an African dream, an Israeli dream and a Palestinian dream”.
Comedians and actors such as Steve Carell and Jamie Foxx brought some comic levity to the inauguration of a president who will face some serious problems in just a few days.
Foxx, always the showman, urged “Chi-town” to “stand up!”
Joined by his wife Michelle and their children, Obama stood up, laughing and clapping.
Foxx did an impression of Obama’s speech election night as the president-elect laughed.
Stevie Wonder belted out “Higher ground” with Shakira and Usher, while Herbie Hancock backed Sheryl Crow and Will.i.am. as they sang Bob Marley’s “One love”.
Garth Brooks performed the 1971 folk rock classic “American pie”, prompting Obama to sing along. It was followed by a choir-backed version of “We shall be free”.
Indian-American actor Kal Penn read a few historical passages, joining Denzel Washington, Tom Hanks, Jack Black and Rosario Dawson.
“I stand here today as hopeful as ever that the United States of America will endure, that it will prevail, that the dream of our founders will live on,” Obama said at the end of the nearly 90-minute long concert.