Hundreds of thousands gathered Tuesday to witness the inauguration of Barack Obama. Footage of the National Mall shows a sea of people participating in the day's events. The following are some of their stories.
When he was a child, Willie Dudley's family moved from Florida to Albany, Ga., to help his grandfather sharecrop. As they toiled in the fields picking cotton, his grandfather instilled in him a devoted work ethic and taught him to treat people right.
"My grandfather and father, they deserve to see this," Dudley said, choking up after President Barack Obama finished his inaugural address.
"Today we lived the true creed of our country. This is something I'll take to my grave. Money can't buy this."
Dudley, 58, a retired school principal, drove from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., with his family and braved a brisk day in Washington to watch the swearing in.
"The weather didn't matter," he said. "What a beautiful, lovely day."
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Standing near a JumboTron at the World War II Memorial on the National Mall, Rob Alesiani, 25, of Newark, N.J., was outfitted in his Christmas present from his politically conservative, new in-laws: a New York Yankees jersey with Obama's name and the number 44.
"'This is how much we love you,' they told me," he said.
High school sweethearts Rob and Carrie Alesiani, 26, have been married for just over a year, after dating for more than nine years. They were early supporters of Mr. Obama, and decided they'd attend his inauguration if he was elected.
On Tuesday, they fulfilled that promise to themselves, joining hundreds of thousands of other revelers on the National Mall.
The scene was different from other large gatherings in the New York City area and giant music festivals, he said.
"It looked like a hajj," he said. "It's like Woodstock for political and democracy junkies."
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Maryland resident Ralph Frith was chaperoning his and his relatives' kids on the National Mall, keeping them warm and happy with a game involving lots of running.
He's black, and his wife is white. Frith said he thought his children look like the new, bi-racial president.
The kids were excited about the inauguration, but they were split on whether Mr. Obama's big day was better than Christmas.
"It's a giant step for the United States. The world looks at us in a different light," Frith said.
"This is just part of the process because the big giant step was when Martin Luther King and his vision to see the country change."
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Michael Bennett and Connor Cox are both 10 years old traveled from Chapel Hill, N.C. Bennett said he thinks President Obama will change a lot of things.
"We'll stop fighting," he said. "I think we'll be a better country and have peace."
Cox said the election shows blacks are becoming equal to whites and paves the way for a female president, too.
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Draped in a Panamanian flag touting his heritage, Jesse McAlman described the scene on the National Mall as electric.
"Everyone is being beautiful to each other," said the Brooklyn, N.Y., resident, who has also spent much time recently in Mr. Obama's home state of Hawaii. "People in this country understand that we're all in it together, man."
After arriving in the United States in the 1960s from Panama, his parents thanked the civil rights movement for enabling them to become established, McAlmam said.
"My parents will always thank Martin Luther King for opening doors," he said. "My parents probably wouldn't have gotten jobs [without him]. I'm serious about that."
Now, he said, Mr. Obama has paved the way for the possibility of presidents named Patel, Rodriguez or Chen.
McAlmam used to practice on the Punahou School track where Mr. Obama attended high school.
"The first thing Hawaiians will say is that he's one of us," he said. "We need a person who's very serene and won't get jumpy. We need a person who's calm right now, don't you think?"
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Editor's note: An earlier version of this article misspelled McAlman's last name.