The story

Barack Obama launched his presidency before an estimated 1.5 million people on the National Mall on Tuesday with somber yet confident tones, saying the country will overcome its serious economic and international challenges.

"Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real," Obama said in his inaugural address. "They are serious, and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America: They will be met."

Obama's tempered optimism, however, was bookended by celebration in the Mall and across the country for the inauguration of the country's first African-American president.

"This is America happening," said Evadey Minott, a Brooklyn, New York, resident who witnessed the inauguration.

"It was prophesized by King that we would have a day when everyone would come together. This is that day. I am excited. I am joyful. It brings tears to my eyes." Read reactions of people at inauguration, parade Read full article »

CNN's Jessica Yellin, Jeanne Meserve, Ted Barrett, Ed Hornick, Kristi Keck, Barbara Starr, Scott J. Anderson and Martina Stewart contributed to this report.

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