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Across the Country, 'It's Like a New Aura'

Rosemary Boland, a teachers union official, thought Obama might amend the No Child Left Behind education law. Jack Flanagan, a business manager, talked wistfully about lower taxes and more spending money. The city's mayor, Christopher Doherty, hoped Obama would use federal funds to help fix Scranton's bridges.

"Having a Democrat in the White House will renew a focus on cities that has been lost during the past eight years," said Doherty, a Democrat who supported Obama.

Across the Washington region, some parents kept their kids home from school, homeowners hung American flags outside their front doors, and people paused to replay wild celebrations they had witnessed the night before, from the revelers chanting "Obama!" outside the White House to the foot-stomping carnival that unfolded along U Street NW.

"It's a new day," the dispatcher at a waste management company announced to employees in Prince George's County over a two-way radio. "You can start on the back of the truck and become president of the United States."

At the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site in Anacostia, staff member Ivan Degraff, 19, is accustomed to handing out tickets and answering questions. But when Lavelle Foster-Brown showed up for a tour, she demanded something extra: a hug.

"Crazy," Degraff said at the wonder of it all.

It was a day in which perfect strangers plopped down next to each other and realized they had something in common.

On Metro, where riders rarely exchange words or even glances, a silver-haired man in a yellow rain slicker and a woman with salt-and-pepper hair fell into easy conversation as they waited for an Orange Line train at McPherson Square.

"Oh, may I see the picture?" Elaine Reed of Arlington County asked the man as he read a newspaper. The man obliged, noting how well he thought the photograph captured Obama's triumphant moment.

"Did you see him at Grant Park last night?" Reed asked. "It was like a sea of flowers."

Outside a 7-Eleven in Falls Church, Latino construction workers said they hoped Obama's presidency would bring them a more solid perch in the United States, at least in terms of public acceptance and possibly with changes in immigration policies.

Obama "did not talk about hating us or seem angry, like the other side did," said Jesus Miguel, 50, a day laborer and an illegal immigrant from Mexico. "He talked about American-ness as an idea in which color and race don't matter. That's what we all aspire to."

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