Inaugural events full of Tennessee connections - WSMV Channel 4

Inaugural events full of Tennessee connections

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Hundreds of thousands crowded onto the National Mall to watch President Barack Obama take his second oath of office Monday.

During his inaugural address, he spoke of protecting America's freedom, caring for the generations that built this country and caring for those who will build its future.

The celebration continued into the evening with a parade and inaugural balls, and from the musicians to the marchers, Tennesseans played a part.

The massive crowd outside the Capitol included onlookers like Cassandra Pillow, who made the trip from Nashville to witness history.

"It was awe-inspiring," she said. "There were people from all over the country who had traveled there to witness what was happening in our country today. And we just felt really, really close to one another."

Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander served as co-chairman of the congressional committee that oversaw the inauguration and spoke during the ceremony.

During the inauguration ceremony, the booming voice making introductions and announcements belonged to Nashville native and University of Tennessee alumnus Courtney Williams, who carries the title of "Voice of the Navy."

Kelly Clarkson, a Hendersonville resident, performed America during the ceremony, and in the inaugural parade, the Stevens family proudly marched.

Jared Stevens, who has cerebral palsy, starred in a recent viral internet video in which he pins his opponent during a school wrestling match.

His Brentwood family and Jared's guide dog, John, were selected from thousands of applicants to attend with the group Canine Companions for Independence.

Despite the goodwill in Washington, politics still ruled the day.

So, in Nashville, the state's Republicans watched carefully, hoping for the sake of the country the feeling of unity lasts more than a single day.

"There were partisan tones in his speech, and I think that people are looking for folks to work together," said Tennessee GOP Chairman Chris Devaney. "It is a country where we can be proud of the process - the process of transition, the peaceful process. And I think all Americans should be proud of that."

Other Tennessee participants in the inaugural events included a Kingsport high school marching band and the Lee University choir from Cleveland, TN.

To close the evening's festivities, Clarkson and fellow Nashville musician Brad Paisley were invited to perform at the two official inaugural balls.

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