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President Obama's second term officially begins on Sunday. He took the oath of office in an intimate ceremony at the White House, fulfilling the constitutional requirement to take the oath before noon on Jan. 20.
Witnesses to the ceremony included first lady Michelle Obama, their daughters, Malia and Sasha, Obama's sister, Maya Soetero-Ng, and her family; his mother-in-law, Marian Robison, and his brother-in-law, Craig Robinson, and his family.
On Monday, he will repeat the oath and give his inaugural speech on the steps of the U.S. Capitol before hundreds of thousands of people. He then makes the traditional journey, part of it on foot, down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House. Fancy dress balls, fewer than in 2009, consume the evening hours.
While Obama convincingly won a second term, the jubilation that surrounded him four years ago is subdued this time around — a reality for second-term presidents. He guided the country through many crushing challenges after taking office in 2009: ending the Iraq war, putting the Afghan war on a course toward U.S. withdrawal and saving the collapsing economy. He won approval for a sweeping health care overhaul. Yet onerous problems remain, and his success in resolving them will define his place in history.