Jan 20 2013
Barack Obama, battered but still popular after a bruising first term as President, will be sworn in for another four years to lead an America perhaps as divided politically and socially as at any time since the Civil War 150 years ago.
When Mr Obama first took office as the 44th US President, many Americans hoped the symbolism of the first black man in the White House was a turning point in the country's deeply-troubled racial history.
But four years later, the nation is only more divided. While Mr Obama convincingly won a second term, the jubilation that surrounded him four years ago is subdued this time around.
Mr Obama guided the country through many crushing challenges - ending the Iraq war, putting the Afghan war on a course towards US withdrawal and saving the collapsing economy - and won approval for a sweeping health care overhaul.
Yet onerous problems remain. He faces fights with opposition Republicans over gun control, avoiding a default on the nation's debts, cutting the spiralling national deficit and preventing Iran from building a nuclear weapon.
Mr Obama begins his second term at noon (5pm GMT) on January 20, the date and time specified by law.
He will take his oath in a simple White House ceremony and will on Monday repeat the oath and give his inaugural speech on the steps of the US Capitol before hundreds of thousands of people in a ceremony laden with pomp.
Monday is also the holiday marking the birth of Martin Luther King, the revered civil rights leader who was assassinated in 1968.
On the eve of his new term, Mr Obama and first lady Michelle Obama stained a bookcase during a national service event organised by the inaugural committee and the President reminded the nation of the coming remembrance of Dr King's life.
"He (Dr King) said everybody wants to be first, everybody wants to be a drum major. But if you're going to be a drum major, be a drum major for service, be a drum major for justice, be a drum major for looking out for other people," Mr Obama said.