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President Barack Obama's Inaugural Remarks on Jan. 20, 2009, At the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.

President Barack Obama's Inaugural Remarks on Jan. 20, 2009, At the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.

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Full transcript of President Barack Obama's Inaugural Remarks on Jan. 20, 2009, At the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Full transcript of President Barack Obama's Inaugural Remarks on Jan. 20, 2009, At the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.

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Published by: Jason Peck on Jan 23, 2009
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05/10/2014

Full transcript as prepared for delivery of President Barack Obama's inaugural remarks on Jan. 20, 200 , at t!

e "nited #tates $apitol in %as!ington, &.$. '(y fello) citi*ens+ , stand !ere today !umbled by t!e task before us, grateful for t!e trust you !ave besto)ed, mindful of t!e sacrifices borne by our ancestors. , t!ank President Bus! for !is service to our nation, as )ell as t!e generosity and cooperation !e !as s!o)n t!roug!out t!is transition. Forty-four .mericans !ave no) taken t!e presidential oat!. /!e )ords !ave been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and t!e still )aters of peace. 0et, every so often t!e oat! is taken amidst gat!ering clouds and raging storms. .t t!ese moments, .merica !as carried on not simply because of t!e skill or vision of t!ose in !ig! office, but because %e t!e People !ave remained fait!ful to t!e ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents. #o it !as been. #o it must be )it! t!is generation of .mericans. /!at )e are in t!e midst of crisis is no) )ell understood. Our nation is at )ar, against a far-reac!ing net)ork of violence and !atred. Our economy is badly )eakened, a conse1uence of greed and irresponsibility on t!e part of some, but also our collective failure to make !ard c!oices and prepare t!e nation for a ne) age. 2omes !ave been lost3 4obs s!ed3 businesses s!uttered. Our !ealt! care is too costly3 our sc!ools fail too many3 and eac! day brings furt!er evidence t!at t!e )ays )e use energy strengt!en our adversaries and t!reaten our planet. /!ese are t!e indicators of crisis, sub4ect to data and statistics. 5ess measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land - a nagging fear t!at .merica's decline is inevitable, and t!at t!e ne6t generation must lo)er its sig!ts. /oday , say to you t!at t!e c!allenges )e face are real. /!ey are serious and t!ey are many. /!ey )ill not be met easily or in a s!ort span of time. But kno) t!is, .merica - t!ey )ill be met. On t!is day, )e gat!er because )e !ave c!osen !ope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On t!is day, )e come to proclaim an end to t!e petty grievances and false promises, t!e recriminations and )orn out dogmas, t!at for far too long !ave strangled our politics. %e remain a young nation, but in t!e )ords of #cripture, t!e time !as come to set aside c!ildis! t!ings. /!e time !as come to reaffirm our enduring spirit3 to c!oose our better !istory3 to carry for)ard t!at precious gift, t!at noble idea, passed on from generation to generation+ t!e 7od-given promise t!at all are e1ual, all are free, and all deserve a c!ance to pursue t!eir full measure of !appiness. ,n reaffirming t!e greatness of our nation, )e understand t!at greatness is never a given. ,t must be earned. Our 4ourney !as never been one of s!ort-cuts or settling for less. ,t !as not been t!e pat! for t!e faint-!earted for t!ose )!o prefer leisure over )ork, or seek only t!e pleasures of ric!es and fame. 8at!er, it !as been t!e risk-takers, t!e doers, t!e makers of t!ings - some celebrated but more often men and )omen obscure in t!eir labor, )!o !ave carried us up t!e long, rugged pat! to)ards prosperity and freedom. For us, t!ey packed up t!eir fe) )orldly possessions and traveled across oceans in searc! of a ne) life. For us, t!ey toiled in s)eats!ops and settled t!e %est3 endured t!e las! of t!e )!ip and plo)ed t!e !ard eart!. For us, t!ey foug!t and died, in places like $oncord and 7ettysburg3 9ormandy and :!e #a!n. /ime and again t!ese men and )omen struggled and sacrificed and )orked till t!eir !ands )ere ra) so t!at )e mig!t live a better life. /!ey sa) .merica as bigger t!an t!e sum of our individual ambitions3 greater t!an all t!e differences of birt! or )ealt! or faction. /!is is t!e 4ourney )e continue today. %e remain t!e most prosperous, po)erful nation on ;art!. Our )orkers are no less productive t!an )!en t!is crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed t!an t!ey )ere last )eek or last mont! or last year. Our capacity remains undiminis!ed. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narro) interests and putting off unpleasant decisions - t!at time !as surely passed. #tarting today, )e must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again t!e )ork of remaking .merica.

For every)!ere )e look, t!ere is )ork to be done. /!e state of t!e economy calls for action, bold and s)ift, and )e )ill act - not only to create ne) 4obs, but to lay a ne) foundation for gro)t!. %e )ill build t!e roads and bridges, t!e electric grids and digital lines t!at feed our commerce and bind us toget!er. %e )ill restore science to its rig!tful place, and )ield tec!nology's )onders to raise !ealt! care's 1uality and lo)er its cost. %e )ill !arness t!e sun and t!e )inds and t!e soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. .nd )e )ill transform our sc!ools and colleges and universities to meet t!e demands of a ne) age. .ll t!is )e can do. .nd all t!is )e )ill do. 9o), t!ere are some )!o 1uestion t!e scale of our ambitions - )!o suggest t!at our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. /!eir memories are s!ort. For t!ey !ave forgotten )!at t!is country !as already done3 )!at free men and )omen can ac!ieve )!en imagination is 4oined to common purpose, and necessity to courage. %!at t!e cynics fail to understand is t!at t!e ground !as s!ifted beneat! t!em - t!at t!e stale political arguments t!at !ave consumed us for so long no longer apply. /!e 1uestion )e ask today is not )!et!er our government is too big or too small, but )!et!er it )orks - )!et!er it !elps families find 4obs at a decent )age, care t!ey can afford, a retirement t!at is dignified. %!ere t!e ans)er is yes, )e intend to move for)ard. %!ere t!e ans)er is no, programs )ill end. .nd t!ose of us )!o manage t!e public's dollars )ill be !eld to account - to spend )isely, reform bad !abits, and do our business in t!e lig!t of day - because only t!en can )e restore t!e vital trust bet)een a people and t!eir government. 9or is t!e 1uestion before us )!et!er t!e market is a force for good or ill. ,ts po)er to generate )ealt! and e6pand freedom is unmatc!ed, but t!is crisis !as reminded us t!at )it!out a )atc!ful eye, t!e market can spin out of control - and t!at a nation cannot prosper long )!en it favors only t!e prosperous. /!e success of our economy !as al)ays depended not 4ust on t!e si*e of our 7ross &omestic Product, but on t!e reac! of our prosperity3 on our ability to e6tend opportunity to every )illing !eart - not out of c!arity, but because it is t!e surest route to our common good. .s for our common defense, )e re4ect as false t!e c!oice bet)een our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fat!ers, faced )it! perils )e can scarcely imagine, drafted a c!arter to assure t!e rule of la) and t!e rig!ts of man,

a c!arter e6panded by t!e blood of generations. /!ose ideals still lig!t t!e )orld, and )e )ill not give t!em up for e6pedience's sake. .nd so to all ot!er peoples and governments )!o are )atc!ing today, from t!e grandest capitals to t!e small village )!ere my fat!er )as born+ kno) t!at .merica is a friend of eac! nation and every man, )oman, and c!ild )!o seeks a future of peace and dignity, and t!at )e are ready to lead once more. 8ecall t!at earlier generations faced do)n fascism and communism not 4ust )it! missiles and tanks, but )it! sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. /!ey understood t!at our po)er alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as )e please. ,nstead, t!ey kne) t!at our po)er gro)s t!roug! its prudent use3 our security emanates from t!e 4ustness of our cause, t!e force of our e6ample, t!e tempering 1ualities of !umility and restraint. %e are t!e keepers of t!is legacy. 7uided by t!ese principles once more, )e can meet t!ose ne) t!reats t!at demand even greater effort - even greater cooperation and understanding bet)een nations. %e )ill begin to responsibly leave ,ra1 to its people, and forge a !ardearned peace in .fg!anistan. %it! old friends and former foes, )e )ill )ork tirelessly to lessen t!e nuclear t!reat, and roll back t!e specter of a )arming planet. %e )ill not apologi*e for our )ay of life, nor )ill )e )aver in its defense, and for t!ose )!o seek to advance t!eir aims by inducing terror and slaug!tering innocents, )e say to you no) t!at our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken3 you cannot outlast us, and )e )ill defeat you. For )e kno) t!at our patc!)ork !eritage is a strengt!, not a )eakness. %e are a nation of $!ristians and (uslims, Je)s and 2indus - and non-believers. %e are s!aped by every language and culture, dra)n from every end of t!is ;art!3 and because )e !ave tasted t!e bitter s)ill of civil )ar and segregation, and emerged from t!at dark c!apter stronger and more united, )e cannot !elp but believe t!at t!e old !atreds s!all someday pass3 t!at t!e lines of tribe s!all soon dissolve3 t!at as t!e )orld gro)s smaller, our common !umanity s!all reveal itself3 and t!at .merica must play its role in us!ering in a ne) era of peace. /o t!e (uslim )orld, )e seek a ne) )ay for)ard, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. /o t!ose leaders around t!e globe )!o seek to so) conflict, or blame t!eir society's ills on t!e %est -

kno) t!at your people )ill 4udge you on )!at you can build, not )!at you destroy. /o t!ose )!o cling to po)er t!roug! corruption and deceit and t!e silencing of dissent, kno) t!at you are on t!e )rong side of !istory3 but t!at )e )ill e6tend a !and if you are )illing to unclenc! your fist. /o t!e people of poor nations, )e pledge to )ork alongside you to make your farms flouris! and let clean )aters flo)3 to nouris! starved bodies and feed !ungry minds. .nd to t!ose nations like ours t!at en4oy relative plenty, )e say )e can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders3 nor can )e consume t!e )orld's resources )it!out regard to effect. For t!e )orld !as c!anged, and )e must c!ange )it! it. .s )e consider t!e road t!at unfolds before us, )e remember )it! !umble gratitude t!ose brave .mericans )!o, at t!is very !our, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. /!ey !ave somet!ing to tell us today, 4ust as t!e fallen !eroes )!o lie in .rlington )!isper t!roug! t!e ages. %e !onor t!em not only because t!ey are guardians of our liberty, but because t!ey embody t!e spirit of service3 a )illingness to find meaning in somet!ing greater t!an t!emselves. .nd yet, at t!is moment - a moment t!at )ill define a generation - it is precisely t!is spirit t!at must in!abit us all. For as muc! as government can do and must do, it is ultimately t!e fait! and determination of t!e .merican people upon )!ic! t!is nation relies. ,t is t!e kindness to take in a stranger )!en t!e levees break, t!e selflessness of )orkers )!o )ould rat!er cut t!eir !ours t!an see a friend lose t!eir 4ob )!ic! sees us t!roug! our darkest !ours. ,t is t!e firefig!ter's courage to storm a stair)ay filled )it! smoke, but also a parent's )illingness to nurture a c!ild, t!at finally decides our fate. Our c!allenges may be ne). /!e instruments )it! )!ic! )e meet t!em may be ne). But t!ose values upon )!ic! our success depends - !ard )ork and !onesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism t!ese t!ings are old. /!ese t!ings are true. /!ey !ave been t!e 1uiet force of progress t!roug!out our !istory. %!at is demanded t!en is a return to t!ese trut!s. %!at is re1uired of us no) is a ne) era of responsibility - a recognition, on t!e part of every .merican, t!at )e !ave duties to ourselves, our nation, and t!e )orld, duties

t!at )e do not grudgingly accept but rat!er sei*e gladly, firm in t!e kno)ledge t!at t!ere is not!ing so satisfying to t!e spirit, so defining of our c!aracter, t!an giving our all to a difficult task. /!is is t!e price and t!e promise of citi*ens!ip. /!is is t!e source of our confidence - t!e kno)ledge t!at 7od calls on us to s!ape an uncertain destiny. /!is is t!e meaning of our liberty and our creed - )!y men and )omen and c!ildren of every race and every fait! can 4oin in celebration across t!is magnificent mall, and )!y a man )!ose fat!er less t!an si6ty years ago mig!t not !ave been served at a local restaurant can no) stand before you to take a most sacred oat!. #o let us mark t!is day )it! remembrance, of )!o )e are and !o) far )e !ave traveled. ,n t!e year of .merica's birt!, in t!e coldest of mont!s, a small band of patriots !uddled by dying campfires on t!e s!ores of an icy river. /!e capital )as abandoned. /!e enemy )as advancing. /!e sno) )as stained )it! blood. .t a moment )!en t!e outcome of our revolution )as most in doubt, t!e fat!er of our nation ordered t!ese )ords be read to t!e people+ <5et it be told to t!e future )orld...t!at in t!e dept! of )inter, )!en not!ing but !ope and virtue could survive...t!at t!e city and t!e country, alarmed at one common danger, came fort! to meet =it>.< .merica. ,n t!e face of our common dangers, in t!is )inter of our !ards!ip, let us remember t!ese timeless )ords. %it! !ope and virtue, let us brave once more t!e icy currents, and endure )!at storms may come. 5et it be said by our c!ildren's c!ildren t!at )!en )e )ere tested )e refused to let t!is 4ourney end, t!at )e did not turn back nor did )e falter3 and )it! eyes fi6ed on t!e !ori*on and 7od's grace upon us, )e carried fort! t!at great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations?.

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