Like much of the rest of the country, Quad-Citians took in President Barack Obama’s inauguration from afar, gathering to watch on television, the Internet or listen on the radio.
The Augustana College Democrats hosted an event at Carlsson Evald Great Hall, where about two dozen people watched on a big-screen television.
After the president completed the oath, administered by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, scattered applause broke out.
Many of the people there were college students and professors. One man brought his two small daughters, who sat on his lap.
After Obama’s second inaugural address, some of the students said no matter their political alignment, the ceremony made it a time to recognize their common bond as citizens.
“It just made me really proud to be an American,” said Alicia Oken, president of the college Democrats and a 21-year-old senior from Naperville, Ill. “I feel like, as a whole, our nation comes together for one day.”
Justin Choate, a 21-year-old junior from Sugar Grove, Ill., said he voted for Republican Mitt Romney in November. He said he has differences with the president but the country needs to be united.
“I support the office,” he said.
Some Quad-Citians got a closer look at the inaugural festivities.
Davenport Mayor Bill Gluba, one of Iowa’s six electors, was in Washington, D.C. He and his son, Kevin, who works in the capital, watched the speech, then went to a spot outside the Treasury building to watch the parade.
Under sunny skies, Gluba said he was reminded of the 1963 march on Washington, led by Martin Luther King Jr., which he also attended. In some ways, he said, this is a fulfillment of King’s dream.
He praised the president’s speech. “I thought it was a firm commitment to a very progressive agenda,” he said.
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The president’s speech called on Americans to spread freedom and opportunity to all and to deal with even the problems that bitterly divide the country. One item that was a bit of a surprise was his pledge that “we will respond to the threat of climate change.”
It was one of the most specific promises he made during the speech, and it caught the ear of environmentalists in Iowa. Even though Obama said early on in his first term that addressing global warming would be a top priority, he has been criticized for not pursuing it more vigorously.
“President Obama’s second term offers tremendous opportunity to turn the tide on this problem,” Amelia Schoeneman, state associate of Environment Iowa, said Monday.
Jerry Neff, a longtime member of the Eagle View Chapter of the Sierra Club, was encouraged but wary.
“We’ll just have to wait and see, but in my opinion, this is one of the most important issues humans are going to face,” he said.
The House passed a bill in 2009 to limit carbon emissions, but it died in the Senate.