Mon, January 19, 2009
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Obama in triumphal train ride to DC

2009-01-19 06:54:22 GMT2009-01-19 14:54:22 (Beijing Time)  Reuters

Barack Obama arrived in Washington in style as the countdown ticks away to his inauguration as President.

He's been recreating the whistle-stop train journey made by his fore-runner Abraham Lincoln for the same event in 1861.

Obama frequently evokes Lincoln, a fellow native of Illinois who led America during the Civil War and brought slavery to an end in the U.S.

His epic rail trip, like Lincoln's began in Philadelphia earlier in the day.

SOUNDBITE: Barack Obama, U.S. President-elect, saying (English):

"It was here in this city that our American journey began. It was here that a group of farmers and lawyers, merchants and soldiers, gathered to declare their independence and lay claim to a destiny that they were being denied."

Obama's inauguration as President on Tuesday is expected to the most watched event of its kind in American history.

Preparations are well underway and thousands of people have already poured into Washington from across the nation to witness it.

SOUNDBITE: Kenneth Wesson from San Francisco saying (English):

"When I was a kid the idea of an African-American president was something that would be part of a humourous joke but never in the context fo anything serious so we're delighted to be here. this is bigger than just historical to us."

SOUNDBITE: Tracey Major from Florida saying (English):

"It feels like a very honourable thing that we all get to be here and celebrate something that's never happened before."

The celebrations leading up to Obama's inauguration have included the hanging of his portrait at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.

The painting is called 'Hope' and that's what Obama appears at this stage to symbolise.

He's entering the White House with enough foreign goodwill for at least a brief global honeymoon as he wades into the crush of international crises awaiting his attention.

The test will be how speedily he can make headway to make sure high expectations don't melt away into disappointment.

Paul Chapman, Reuters

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