The U.S. awaited the inauguration as President of Barack Obama today, as the country's capital, packed with more than a million visitors, prepared to take in the moment of transition with a formal ceremony.

By law, today's shift of power from President Bush to Obama will take place at noon. Later this afternoon, Obama will move into the White House with his family and staff.

As President, Obama will begin making decisions on matters affecting the nation, including steps toward helping the economy rebound from recession, moving forward on a plan to diminish military presence in Iraq, and take on controversial issues such as deciding on the fate of detained terrorism suspects in Guantanamo bay.

For the moment, however, most visitors will be braving the cold weather to see, most likely on giant video screens, the swearing in ceremony at the National Mall.

Just a day earlier Obama had taken part in symbolic gestures, doing volunteer work at a dormitory for homeless teens in Washington by helping paint the walls.

Everybody can be great, because everyone can serve, Obama said, quoting the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, according to the Associated Press.