Welcome Barack, Obama! WITH 800,000 LINING THE STREETS TO WATCH AND 35,000 AT THE INAUGURAL BALL, THE 44TH PRES STARTS HIS 2ND TERM TODAY WITH AMERICA'S MOST GLAM STARS THERE TO SAY

Article excerpt

Byline: TOM PARRY t.parry@mirror.co.uk

IN the past few days a steady stream of private jets has headed for Washington DC.

The rich and famous have been gathering for THE social event of the year and a piece of living history.

Beyonce will sing the national anthem The Star-Spangled Banner, Lady Gaga will perform and, just as he was in the UK last summer, rapper Will.i.am will be everywhere.

Despite bitter disagreement on gun control and the political dogfight over the deficit, the US is in the middle of a four-day celebration.

And today will be the highlight when at 11.55am - Eastern Standard Time - Barack Obama is sworn in for a second term as the 44th President of the United States.

As he takes the oath, Obama will have his hand on two Bibles belonging to two leaders he most admires.

One was Abraham Lincoln's and the start of Obama's second term coincides with the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, which saw Lincoln order his troops to free three million slaves.

The other belonged to Martin Luther King Jr who, 50 years ago, led his March on Washington when more than 200,000 gathered for a the capital's biggest civil-rights demo.

"Their actions, the movements they represented are the only reason it's possible for me to be inaugurated," said Obama of Lincoln and King.

"It's also a reminder for me that this country has gone through very tough times before but we always come out on the other side."

Officially, Obama was sworn in yesterday at an intimate ceremony witnessed by family and friends in the White House's Blue Room.

But 800,000 are expected to brave the cold - the largest audience for a second inauguration - to see it happen in public.

Afterwards, the president will deliver his eagerly awaited inaugural address.

As presidents are limited to two terms, Obama will not fight another election and can pursue a more radical agenda. Among his priorities will be the economy as the US recently avoided financial disaster when he brokered a deal to stop it falling over its "fiscal cliff".

The Sandy Hook tragedy has also pushed gun control to the top of the agenda.

Obama has been working on his speech since early December and, last week, he invited a group of historians to the White House to discuss the benefits and potential pitfalls of second-term inaugural speeches. But later the celebrities take the limelight.

American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson will sing America (My Country 'Tis of Thee), and 13 minutes later - the event is timed to the second - Beyonce takes centre stage. After a lunch of lobster, grilled bison and apple pie, the Obamas take part in a 9,000-strong parade down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House. …