Obama's Inaugural Speech

USAI watched Barack Obama's inaugural speech live this afternoon. I thought it was brutally honest, without an ounce of sugar coating, but I thought it was liberally sprinkled with hope. I believe this was the right speech at this time, a time of "gathering clouds and raging storms".

If you missed it, here's a transcript of the inaugural address of the 44th President of the United States. Let me know what you thought in the comments.

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have 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 forbearers, 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, and 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 who 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 the 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 will 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. And 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 - and that a 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 our 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 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’s sake. And so to all 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 that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with 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 will 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 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 road 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 today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are 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 - hard work and honesty, 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 history. 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 sixty years ago might not have been served at 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 a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words 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.


Share this entry

Comments (22 - click here to join in!)

elvis

There was a lot of hype and outrageous expectations about this speech. I don't think it would stand a chance against those odds and honestly, I was disappointed. It had it's moments and he is a great orator but I was left wanting more.

January 20, 2009 @ 1:10 PM

Argie

Change.......that's what Obama is supposed to be bringing to the US.

I hope he can but I really doubt it.

Can he change the following in the US? The disproportionate amount of crime, murder specifically, unwanted teenage pregnancy, AIDS, drug addiction and domestic abuse all within the American black community....

If he can change all of this, then he truly is the second coming of Christ. Like I said, I doubt it.

January 20, 2009 @ 1:22 PM

james edgar

I thought it was good way to start. As some commentator said. He took the American public to task and almost demanded that they join together to rebuild and renew their country. And it was inclusive. "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. " the non believer part is suprising.

After Bush he can't be much worse and I think he'll be much better.

January 20, 2009 @ 2:21 PM

michael

it was great..Godbless America!!!!

January 20, 2009 @ 2:34 PM

Buffalo Boy Mike

I think people need to cut him some slack. I think the speeches are what they are, he speaks with clarity, hes up front and he does what he has to do and a new president, give the citizens of his country some hope because we havent had that in a while. The inauguration speech isn't about details.
The details start tomorrow when he starts the job. The details will come in press conferences, state of the union addresses and weekly radio addresses.
He sounds more presidential than anyother speech W. has given in the last 8 years and he may have more statesmanship than Clinton or Kennedy. He may be the closest thing there is to an honest politician. Your right that he didn't sugar coat it. Totally opposite of what we have been getting with W. and all the repukes telling us the Economy is strong, then all of sudden we need a bailout.....

January 20, 2009 @ 4:27 PM

elvis

Toronto Mike and Buffalo Boy Mike: You guys are setting yourselves up to be very disappointed. He is a politician and politicians ALWAYS disappoint.

January 20, 2009 @ 7:33 PM

chris

I thought his speech was give with TOO many promises.
A disappointing few years ahead for sure.
Middle of the Road Prez. but thank you - better than DUBYA.

January 20, 2009 @ 7:56 PM

Mike from Lowville

Well, now I have to step in. This is a true statement..."You guys are setting yourselves up to be very disappointed. He is a politician and politicians ALWAYS disappoint". Now, if that was anybody,...ANYBODY but Obama, I would say yes! What we have is, historic...PLUS. At a time when the Western World needs change, we see change. That is a very positive thing. If people are charged up, things start to happen. In times of depression, people really start to unite. Positive reactions should always be nurtured.

January 20, 2009 @ 10:34 PM

Mike from Lowville

james, his "Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers" statement was all inclusive. "We are all equal", set that.

January 20, 2009 @ 10:51 PM

james edgar

Oh I think it's great he put that in. You can be sure Bush would not have (didn't?) as a firm NON-Beleiver I'm pumped he included us. I read a quote from Bush elder where he says he thinks Atheists should be kicked out of the country for being Un-American. So Inclusion is real nice.

January 21, 2009 @ 6:30 AM

Argie

The scariest part of the speech is where he says he wants to extend a hand to the enemy.

Al queda, Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, N Korea must be licking their chops at the prospect of this guy leading the US. I don't want to be doom and gloom but it doesn't look good for us in the west with a pacifist as President. This guy is going to be Jimmy Carter II (without the southern charm).

Oh and BTW, all of you can stop drooling at Obama's speech - after all its written by someone else. He only reads it.

January 21, 2009 @ 10:18 AM

Andrew

Yes Argie it is very scary to use peave as a method to solve problems. So scary. I would much rather an illegal invasion and countless lives lost as a first step.

January 21, 2009 @ 3:32 PM

elvis

I was once in the position where I had to deliver speeches in public and one thing is true - while you may not write all of the words you say, once you say them outloud, they are yours. Obama's words are his and his alone.

January 21, 2009 @ 6:51 PM

argie

Andrew: Peace with the enemies I mentioned above??? Are you serious???

That's like saying if we can talk to Paul Bernardo or Clifford Olson, they won't harm again.

Come on man, get a grip.

January 21, 2009 @ 9:11 PM

Andrew

At first you try peace.

And to compare a country to one serial killer is a big stretch.

January 22, 2009 @ 8:57 AM

Jill

I thought Barack Obama's inaugural speech was perfect.
He instills hope and speaks about the "recovery" of a nation.

In the health field, Recovery is seen as a journey, that involves developing hope, a secure base and sense of self, supportive relationships, empowerment, social inclusion, coping skills, and meaning.
Recovery focuses on the strengths and resilience perspectives which allows for new and creative ways to build skills and competiencies as opposed to deficits.
During the recovery process negative symptoms may still persist; however one must feel and believe that change can happen. ( Yes it can! )
Recovery is based on continual growth with occasional setbacks.
Recovery uses motivational enhancement to engage and motivate individuals towards change.
The Recovery model focuses on a growth mindset (views criticism and negative feedback as sources of information, reasches for a higher level of acheivement, embraces challenges because you know you will come out stronger.) as opposed to a fixed mindset (avoids challenges and sticks to what they know they can do well, ignore useful feedback, plateau early and acheive less than their full potential)

I heard all of this reflected in Obamas speech.

Argie........"Can he change the following in the US? The disproportionate amount of crime, murder specifically, unwanted teenage pregnancy, AIDS, drug addiction and domestic abuse all within the American black community...."
Is the burden on him to change these statistics? I think as a new leader during a new time he is attempting to get us all (globally) to recognize that change is within ourselves.
Argie........."Oh and BTW, all of you can stop drooling at Obama's speech - after all its written by someone else. He only reads it."
True, but he read it with conviction and he definately owns the words he read. I think if you ( no offense intended) read me the same speech it definately wouldn't get me as revved up and inspired as Obama did.


James Edgar.........."As some commentator said. He took the American public to task and almost demanded that they join together to rebuild and renew their country. And it was inclusive."
I totally agree. Obama is all about engaging the American public in the recovery of their nation and clearly defines that it will require participation from them.

Elvis........."You guys are setting yourselves up to be very disappointed. He is a politician and politicians ALWAYS disappoint."
Obama has clearly stated that good and glorious things will not happen overnight. He has spoken about the long journey and hard work that the American Public will have to engage in.......and.....they are ready. We see it in the masses. They are wanting to be led by a team with a positive leader who will deliver positive outcomes.


January 23, 2009 @ 12:21 AM

Argie

Jill: Not surprisingly you missed my point.

Stafford must be referring to you when he writes about those vacuous, superficial, SUV driving 'soccer moms'

Anyway, I digress. What I'm trying to say is that despite the fact Obama was is the exception to the rule (thanks to his grand parents rasing him - and certainly not his parents), he is responsible, educated and obviously very successful.

His presidency will NOT inspire those who love to hear him speak but are at a loss. There's nothing he can say that will inspire those wothless causes.

Understand now?

January 23, 2009 @ 12:40 PM

Jill

Argie.....I love how your first line of defense is always to attack in a hostile, antagonistic and condescending manner when people don't subscribe to your notions.
As for the worthless causes that you refer to, this is a subject that I have written about on this blog

http://www.torontomike.com/2005/12/guest_blog_entry_384.html

as well as my own when I am not writing my usual suberbia, SUV, soccer mom kind of fluff.
I think Obama is a politician that has a pulse of the people and is aware of the issues that have contributed to high risk youth or "worthless causes."

January 23, 2009 @ 2:49 PM

Argie

Jill,

When you refer to 'high risk youth' do you mean the punk, err youth who shot up the subway yesterday. Fortunately he hit one of his own with 2 shots.

How does Obama reach those pieces of crap?

January 23, 2009 @ 4:03 PM

Argie

Oh and Jill - I just read your blog entry. Are you really serious??? "We're to blame"? Too funny...

I'm surprised you didn't blame Mike Harris. Its one thing to have this attitude when you're 19 years old and a 1st year sociology student but I'm guessing you're in your 40s (at least) so this would make you pretty pathetic.

Please keep writing, you're making me laugh........

January 23, 2009 @ 4:09 PM

Jill

Argie......You are great at broadening the parameters of a discussion so that it encompasses your generalizations and negativity.
Initially this post began with Mike asking us our thoughts on the speech and you begin to lose focus by saying......"Can he change the following in the US? The disproportionate amount of crime, murder specifically, unwanted teenage pregnancy, AIDS, drug addiction and domestic abuse all within the American black community. If he can change all of this, then he truly is the second coming of Christ. Like I said, I doubt it."
That is another debate in itself. One you and I feel very different about.
You then focus on one part of a complete statement to help feed and fuel your pessimisstic tone and vision......."The scariest part of the speech is where he says he wants to extend a hand to the enemy. Al queda, Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, N Korea must be licking their chops at the prospect of this guy leading the US. I don't want to be doom and gloom but it doesn't look good for us in the west with a pacifist as President. This guy is going to be Jimmy Carter II (without the southern charm)."
You conveniently omit the part where he says........"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."
I also love how the focus of this conversation gets even broader as you bring in references to Paul Bernardo and Clifford Olson. Did I tell you it was at this point that you were making me laugh.......ha,ha,ha. I was surprised you did not make some reference to Dr. Morgentaler so you can use this forum to bully your viewpoints on that as well.
I also want to reinforce that the goal of this speech was to set a tone and remind us of themes that his government would be working towards. It wasn't about the details or specific interventions.
Yet again you dislodge another inflammatory remark because you love to instigate and stir the shit by saying......"Oh and BTW, all of you can stop drooling at Obama's speech - after all its written by someone else. He only reads it. "
Do you really think people are not aware of that or you truly more enlightened than others? I also did not up to that point really hear that readers were "drooling" over it as you like to condecendingly imply.

January 23, 2009 @ 6:09 PM

argie

Wow Jill - I'm impressed. It seems you magically acquired an expansive vocabulary and greatly improved your writing skills. Either that, or you asked your husband to write a response to my earlier entries.

Its OK, I didn't expect you to have a valid response to my posts. After all you're just an ageing soccer mom trying desperately to squeeze herself into size 10 lulu-lemon workout pants.

January 25, 2009 @ 9:29 AM

Leave a comment


Only 22 comments? C'mon, we can do better... Leave a comment above and let's keep this conversation going!


« Cancon for Barack Obama's iPod Global Toronto News at Noon Gets the Axe »