Read some on-the-ground dispatches from our reporters in Washington, D.C., covering President Barack Obama’s second presidential inauguration.

WASHINGTON, D.C. 1:34 p.m. — Realistic about the challenges of Washington but hopeful nevertheless, at least 600,000 have crowded onto the National Mall to witness the second inauguration of President Obama.

They have cited health care, the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell” and a recovering economy as successes of the past term, and gun control and budgetary issues as challenges of the next.

“Second terms tend to be more productive,” Lauren Silber, a student from Arizona who studies at American University in Washington, D.C., said, noting that President Obama no longer needs to worry about re-election. “I think there are good things to come.”

During the inauguration’s musical prelude, which featured school choirs from across the nation, an energy reminiscent of four years ago began to overtake the crowd. On the ending note of “God Bless America,” men and women, cold from the hours already spent waiting outside, cheered and waved American flags. — Matthew Lloyd-Thomas, Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C. 1:13 p.m. — Just before noon this morning, President Barack Obama renewed his oath of office in front of a crowd of hundreds of thousands of flag-waving spectators. The oath was symbolic as the Constitution requires that the president is inaugurated on Jan. 20. Traditionally, when Jan. 20 lands on a Sunday, the ceremony inauguration is held on the next day.

In his inaugural address, Obama played on the theme of equality to issue a call to action on positions he advocated throughout his campaign, including health care, education and climate change. “We are made for this moment, and we will seize it, so long as we seize it together,” Obama said. “That is our generation’s task, to make these words, these rights, these values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, real for every American.” — Patrick Casey and Michelle Hackman, Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C. 10:49 a.m. — Among the army of vendors lining the streets leading up to the National Mall, two young men are offering a unique product. “The erection election collection for your protection,” one shouted, brandishing a box of condoms sporting President Obama’s face. “The ultimate stimulus package,” one condom proclaims. “Hope is not a form of protection.” Romney condoms (“great for any position”) were also available. Wayne Tucker, one of the vendors from Brooklyn, N.Y., says that most people find the condoms humorous. “I’ve had some people upset,” he added. “I usually just tell them we have smaller sizes.”

The condoms aren’t cheap, though; the venders are selling them for $5 apiece. — Patrick Casey and Michelle Hackman, Washington, D.C.

[showcase id=”11755″]