Barack Obama’s Inauguration Speech

Speaker: Barack
Delivered On: 1/20/2009
Place: Washington, DC
Subject: Inauguration

Audio/Video Available:

Description: Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States. He was sworn in on January 20, 2009. 1.8 million people attended the ceremonies in Washington, DC. However, due to high traffic volume, some people that had tickets to the ceremony could not get there in time. The guards closed the gates at 11:30 AM; after that, no one was allowed onto the grounds. The inauguration ceremony itself cost about 75 million dollars, which included transportation, communication, and law enforcement services. President Obama had to retake the oath the following day at the White House, because some of the words were mixed up when he was sworn in on his inauguration day.

John Roberts: Are you prepared to take the oaths, Senator?

President Obama: I am.

John Roberts: I, Barack Hussein Obama, I solemnly swear

President Obama: I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear…

John Roberts: That I will execute the office of President to the United States faithfully.

President Obama: That I will execute the office of President to the United States

John Roberts: And will, to the best of my ability…

President Obama: And will, to the best of my ability…

John Roberts: Preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

President Obama: Preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

John Roberts: So help you God?

President Obama: So help me God.

John Roberts: Congratulations Mr. President.

Woman 1: It is my great personal honor to present the 44th President of these United
States, Barack Obama.

President Obama: Thank you. Thank you. My fellow citizens, I stand here today, humbled
by the task before us, grateful for the trust you’ve bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices
borne by our ancestors.

I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity
and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken
during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often,
the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America
has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office,
but because we, the people, have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears
and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war
against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened,
a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective
failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been
lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly, our schools
fail too many, and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy
strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics; less measurable,
but no less profound, is a sapping of confidence across our land; a nagging fear
that America’s decline is inevitable, that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they
are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this
America, they will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over
conflict and discord. On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances
and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long
have strangled our politics. We remain a young nation. But in the words of Scripture,
the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our
enduring spirit, to choose our better history, to carry forward that precious gift,
that noble idea passed on from generation to generation, the God-given promise that
all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure
of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation we understand that greatness is never
a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling
for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted, for those that prefer
leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has
been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things, some celebrated, but more
often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long rugged
path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans
in search of a new life. For us, they toiled in sweatshops, and settled the West,
endured the lash of the whip, and plowed the hard earth. For us, they fought and
died in places like Concord, and Gettysburg, Normandy, and Khe Sahn.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their
hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than
the sum of our individual ambitions, greater than all the differences of birth or
wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation
on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds
are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last
week, or last month, or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time
of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions,
that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves
off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of our economy calls
for action, bold and swift. And we will act not only to create new jobs, but to
lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric
grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We’ll restore
science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s
quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to
fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges
and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. All this
we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions, who suggest that our
system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short, for they have
forgotten what this country has already done, what free men and women can achieve
when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage. What the
cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them, that the
stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.

The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small,
but whether it works, whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care
they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend
to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who
manage the public’s dollars will be held to account, to spend wisely, reform bad
habits, and do our business in the light of day, because only then can we restore
the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its
power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched. But this crisis has reminded
us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control. The nation cannot
prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has
always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach
of our prosperity, on the ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart,
not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and
our ideals. Our Founding Fathers faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine
drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man – a charter expanded
by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not
give them up for expedience sake.

And so, to all the other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the
grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born, know that America
is a friend of each nation, and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of
peace and dignity. And we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles
and tanks, but with the sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood
that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please.
Instead they knew that our power grows through its prudent use, our security emanates
from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities
of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more we can meet
those new threats that demand even greater effort, even greater cooperation and
understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people
and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes,
we’ll work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of
a warming planet.

We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense. And
for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents,
we say to you now that, “Our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken. You cannot
outlast us, and we will defeat you.”

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a
nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers. We are shaped
by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth, and because we
have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that
dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds
shall someday pass, that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve, that as the world
grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play
its role in ushering in a new era of peace. To the Muslim world, we seek a new way
forward based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the
globe who seek to sow conflict or blame their society’s ills on the West, know that
your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy.

To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent,
know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if
you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms
flourish and let clean waters flow, to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds.
And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer
afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders, nor can we consume the
world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must
change with it.

As we consider the role that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude
those brave Americans who at this very hour patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains.
They have something to tell us, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper
through the ages. We honor them not only because they are the guardians of our liberty,
but because they embody the spirit of service, a willingness to find meaning in
something greater than themselves.

And yet at this moment, a moment that will define a generation, it is precisely
this spirit that must inhabit us all. For as much as government can do, and must
do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which
this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break,
the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose
their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage
to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture
a child that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But
those values upon which our success depends, honesty and hard work, courage and
fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism, these things are old.
These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our

What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is
a new era of responsibility, a recognition on the part of every American that we
have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly
accept, but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so
satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character than giving our all to a
difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship. This is the source of our confidence,
the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny. This is the meaning
of our liberty and our creed, why men and women and children of every race and every
faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose
father less than 60 years ago might not have been served in a local restaurant can
now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance of who we are and how far we have traveled.
In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots
huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned.
The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At the moment when the
outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these
words to be read to the people:

“Let it be told to the future world that in the depth of winter, when nothing but
hope and virtue could survive, that the city and the country, alarmed at one common
danger, came forth to meet it.”

America, in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let
us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the
icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s
children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did
not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace
upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to
future generations.

Thank you. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

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