EXCITED crowds are pouring into downtown Washington for Barack Obama’s second inauguration as US president, anchored on a call for America to unite despite ugly political divides.
Mr Obama will take the oath again before the crowd and is expected to follow the recent tradition of walking at least part of the way back to the White House, surrounded by cheers.
Barack Hussein Obama will raise his right hand and place his left on Bibles once owned by Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln and swear the oath of office before mustering for four years threatened by strife at home and abroad.
The 44th US president, and the first African American to hold the office, launched his second term with a private swearing-in ceremony on Sunday, before basking in the full pomp of his office with public celebrations today.
Mr Obama and his family are beginning inauguration day by attending services at St John’s Episcopal Church near the White House.
The presidential motorcade arrived shortly after 830am local time (12.30am AEDT) under crisp, cold skies outside the sanctuary. The president and first lady Michelle Obama emerged to pose briefly for photos with their daughters Sasha and Malia before entering the church. The first family sometimes attends Sunday worship at the church, which is across Lafayette Park from the White House.