Barack Obama is now the President of the
United States. Americans from around the country packed Washington on a cold
January day to witness the historic swearing-in ceremony.
It was a
ceremony steeped in tradition. But the mood was electric and change was in the
"…I Barack Hussein Obama do solemnly swear."
before the U.S. Capitol Barack Obama became the first African-American President
of the United States.
"... so help me God!"
In less than one
minute, the peaceful transfer of power was complete, and a new chapter in U.S.
history had begun.
"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," President Obama said.
He looked out at a massive, diverse
American crowd, and urged unity.
this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over
conflict and discord," Mr. Obama said.
He inherits a nation at war and
in the midst of an economic crisis. He said the challenges facing the nation
will not be met quickly or easily. But he vowed they will be met.
is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - recognition, on the part
of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and our world,
duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly," Mr. Obama
He said that is the price and the promise of citizenship.
"This is the meaning 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," Mr. Obama said.
The new president also had a message for
the world. He spoke of America's desire for peace, and its determination to seek
the common good.
"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," Mr. Obama said. "To
those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and 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."
And when the official
ceremony was over, George W. Bush left the stage. He shook the hand of his
successor, walked to a waiting helicopter, and waved farewell to Washington and
the 44th President of the United States.