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National Day of Service 2013

On January 21 and 22, President Barack Obama will be sworn in for his second term in the 57th Presidential Inauguration. But you don’t have to be there to get a front row seat to the making of history. NewsOne‘s Senior Editor, Abena Agyeman-Fisher, will act as your eyes and ears with a diary blog that will include photos, video, and unforgettable moments that put you in the center of history. Enjoy!

We Are on Our Way

My husband, Chris; daughter, Mirembe; son, Nalima, and I woke up at 2:30 a.m. (I know!!!) to make our way from Northern New Jersey to Washington, D.C. I figured it was better to leave at an obscene hour rather than have to worry about getting stuck in traffic.

And my plan worked!

We got to D.C. in exactly 3 hours and 52 minutes, which means we got to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center to pick up my press credentials at approximately 7 a.m. Afterward, we got some breakfast at the First Cup Cafe and spoke with other Inauguration attendees about what their plans were for the weekend.

Ready to Give Back

By 11 a.m., we were walking toward the President and First Lady’s National Day of Service tent and we even got an Americorp worker, who was interviewing attendees about why they were volunteering, to take our picture (see above)!

In 2009, the President established a new tradition that would honor the life and contributions of Rev. Dr. Martin L. King Jr. called the “National Day of Service.” With this day, President Obama and First Lady Michelle encourage Americans throughout the nation to give back to their community.

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As we made it past the customary checkpoints, one could feel the enthusiasm of the crowd growing, with eager attendees posing in front of the National Day of Service sign with smiles and laughter.

Once we made it inside of the tent, thousands of volunteers milled about the Health, Education, Faith, Community Resilience, Environment, and Veteran and Military Families volunteer stations.

Almost immediately, we chatted with a woman from Las Vegas, Nev., who explained why she made the trek to D.C. to volunteer.

National Day of Service 2013

Among the crowd was Atlanta Hawks’ Forward-Center Etan Thomas (pictured above), who graciously took pictures with fans. Former President Bill Clinton‘s daughter, Chelsea, also made an appearance along with the incumbent Miss America, Mallory Hagan. Lawyer and television personality Star Jones (pictured below) took to the stage in between taped greetings from Mrs. Obama to talk about her experience with heart disease.

Our first foray into volunteering was at the Faith station, where we — along with otherNational Day of Service 2013 volunteers — created cards for terminally ill children at hospitals. Another notable station was Health, where volunteers were shown how to perform CPR on dummies. This tutorial was truly informative and made both Mirembe and Nalima eager to take actual CPR classes when they return home.

Watch D.C. resident and CPR teacher Richard Kelly explain why he does the work that he does here:

With one event down, we are looking forward to all the other Inaugural events D.C. has to offer!

Flip through the National Day of Service gallery here:

RELATED: Stars Pull Out The Stops For Military Families At Kids’ Inauguration Ball