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Tuesday, January 20, 2009


After being sworn into office using the same Bible as Abraham Lincoln, the newly minted U.S. President Barack Obama said Americans have "chosen hope over fear."

In his inauguration speech, Obama hearkened back to the ideals set out by his political hero, Lincoln.

He called on Americans to put an end to the "petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled politics."

He then quoted scripture, urging Americans to "set aside childish things" and to stand together in unity.

"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."

Obama, the 44th president of the United States, delivered his speech after accepting the oath of office on the steps of Capitol Hill.

The ceremony occurred at noon, as more than one million people watched the ceremony live or on massive projection screens in the National Mall.

Obama described America as a nation built by hard-working immigrants and those willing to die for the freedom they so strongly believed in.

But he acknowledged that the country is "in the midst of crisis," citing the war against terrorism and the "badly weakened" economy as major hurdles on the track ahead.

He said the economic recession is a "consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some," but said everyone has a share in the blame due to "our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age."

"Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, 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," Obama said.

He vowed that America will overcome the obstacles on the path ahead.

"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."

Hundreds of thousands of people had poured into the National Mall for the ceremony, many of them after waiting for hours in the pre-dawn chill.

The crowd braved icy temperatures and snow flurries, to witness the historic swearing-in.

"People have come from all over the United States, indeed from all over the world. We've just spoken to people that have come all the way from Madagascar for this," said CTV's Lisa LaFlamme, noting that many came from warmer climates and had to purchase warm clothing for the event.

"But as the crowds move into the National Mall it becomes warmer and warmer just with the spirit of the people here," LaFlamme said.

The historic day included a massive security effort described as the largest in U.S. history. Amid the security was news Tuesday of a possible threat from an East African radical Islamic terrorist group.

Intelligence officers received information that the Somalia-based group al-Shabaab might try to disrupt the inauguration, according to a joint FBI/Homeland Security bulletin Monday night.

At 2:30 p.m. there will be a presidential inauguration parade along Pennsylvania Avenue, complete with marching bands and thousands of spectators lining the route.



The festivities will wrap up late in the night after 10 inaugural balls that will carry on late into the night.

Hopes are high for Obama when he moves into the White House. He will do so as the first black president and at 47, the 4th youngest.

The charismatic former state senator from Illinois, a husband and father of two young girls, will come into office with great challenges ahead of him.

He follows George Bush, one of the most unpopular and divisive presidents in U.S. history, into office, and will have to deal with the baggage of two unpopular wars, Guantanamo Bay, and a limping U.S. economy.

Avis Jones-DeWeever, of the National Council of Negro Women, told Canada AM Obama has major hurdles to overcome, and change won't happen overnight.

"At times like this we need the American people to rally around each other, work together and say that we're going to pull each other up and make a better tomorrow, and I think he's exactly the leader we need to make that happen," she said in Washington, D.C.


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 co-operation he has shown throughout this transition.

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 fire-fighter'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 travelled. 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.

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