A historical moment took place in Washington D.C. when the 44th American president, Barack Hussein Obama swore his oath of office in a peaceful transition of power on Tuesday. Obama, at age 47, has become the first black president realizing the hopes and dreams of many before his time.
During his inauguration, Obama stood beside his wife Michelle, who held the bible on which Obama’s hand rested. The two stood before Chief Justice John Roberts and Obama took his oath. The bible, which was not required for the oath, was the same one used by Abraham Lincoln in 1861.
Although there was a bit of stumbling through the oath, Obama officially became president at 12:00 p.m. He swore in at 12:05 p.m., five minutes behind schedule.
A crowd of over 1 million people, and 20-30 thousand troops fought off the frigid 23 degrees in the Capitol Mall. The general audience stretched for over a mile and hand-held flags could be seen waving from the hands of most.
In his inaugural speech, Obama addressed the nation as fellow citizens acknowledging the challenges lying before him and the country.
An estimated three-quarters of the country listened to Obama’s speech which ran around 18 minutes. He began with “Thank You” and said he is “humbled by the tasks before us.”
“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,” Obama said.
He recognized the need to focus the nation’s worst economical crisis since the Great Depression “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.”
“Our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions – that time has surely passed,” Obama said, but urged America to move on. “We remain a young nation, but in the words of scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things.”
He called all Americans to meet these challenges as a nation united.
“Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and begin the work of remaking America,” Obama said.
He also addressed other nations “…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.”
Obama started his morning with prayer at St. John’s Church, also known as the Church of the Presidents, and then travelled to the White House greeting former President Bush and first lady Laura, presenting them with gift.
After the Obama’s had coffee with the Bushs, a large motorcade carried the Biden, Cheney, Obama and Bush families a mile and a half from the White House to the Capitol Building as cheers came from the crowds that lined the streets.
All parties were announced as they entered the estimated $150 million event. Included in the masses were three former United States Presidents George Bush Sr., Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.
Diane Feinstien, Chairman of the Inaugural Committee, gave the opening speech and was followed by Pastor Rick Warren who led the crowd in prayer. Aretha Franklin gave a rendition of “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.” Joe Biden took his oath of office and gave thanks. He was followed by a quartet that played “Air and Simple Gifts,” a song written for the event.