The president, directly preceded by the vice president, took his public oath of office today, before the Capitol Dome, and before a crowd of Americans just short of one million strong. For President Barack Obama, as well as Vice President Joe Biden, this was a scene similar to the inauguration four years ago commencing the first four years of his administration. Both men swore to defend, protect, and uphold the United States Constitution, thereby reminding the many millions present, watching, or listening from homes or offices, the importance of that document.
The president’s wife and lovely daughters were at his side; his daughters smiled in girlish pride.
President Obama fulfilled his intent of expressing his views and priorities for the next four years and for the future. An underlying theme to this address was his continued commitment to the “self-evident truth” that “all men are created equal” and to the fundamental belief that they are entitled to “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” “History tells us,” he said, that, “While these truths may be self-evident, they’ve never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by his people here on earth.”
Together we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play. Together we resolve that a great nation must care for the vulnerable and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune. But Americans also have obligations: Americans must accept the necessity in each of hard work and personal responsibility.
For we have always understood that when times change, so must we, that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges, that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.
For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias; no single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future. Or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores.
The president went on to say that “the decade of war has ended, and economic recovery has begun.” He cautioned,
For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it. America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class. We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.
The president, following the continuing applause of a million constituents, moved briefly to the subject of global warming.
We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.
Our citizens seared by the memory of those we have lost, know too well the price that is paid for liberty. The knowledge of their sacrifice will keep us forever vigilant against those who would do us harm. But we are also heirs to those who won the peace, and not just the war. Who turn sworn enemies into the surest of friends. And we will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully. Not because we are naive about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear. [we can] carry those lessons into this time as well. We will defend our people, and uphold our values through strength of arms, and the rule of law.
America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe. And we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad. For no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation. We will support democracy from Asia to Africa, from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom. And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice.
The applause during the celebration of swearing in our president for four more years continued, nearly unbroken.
President Obama repeated his theme, “All men are created equal.” He spoke specifically of womens’ rights: “It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began, for our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts.” He added, “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal, as well.
President Obama completed his address, “God bless you. And may He forever bless these United States of America.