January 20th, 2009: The Day Barack Obama Becomes the 44th President of the United States

Video of Barack being sworn in, inauguration speech and text added after piece.

Today is a big day. In fact, one could argue January 20th, 2009 is one of the most important days in our nation’s history. People are ascending on Washington, D.C. because they want to be a part of something unique. There is no doubt the crowds will surpass the numbers of October 16, 1995–the Million Man March. I’ll never forget the feeling I felt that great day and I hope people in attendance understand just how significant this is. I’m envious I won’t be there to feel the overwhelming emotion as Barack steps to the podium, but I implore anyone who is there to take pictures and also video for this is a day to be documented forevermore. Your grand kids will love you for it.

2 million people are expected on the mall, but billions across the world will be watching as well. There are a lot of world supporters of Barack Obama and this day will go a long way in changing the perception of Americans world wide. Tomorrow is another story, but today is something to be celebrated. This is not exclusively political this is also obviously a very important social moment.

In light of President-elect Obama’s inauguration, it also can’t be understated how important yesterday is in relation to today.

In 1964, MLK predicted it would take 25 years for a Black man to be president. King was 15 years off, but who is counting?

Remember, this started in Iowa. Iowa deserves a lot of credit for this groundswell.

This is not a post racial America, but we are taking the necessary steps to propagate the discussion.

Out of challenge also rises opportunity.

This is a turning point in America. In what direction will we go?

Understand this is not exclusively about a Black man leading the nation. This advances the thoughts and dreams of so many people who never gave it the thought of becoming president.

This means the pool of potential future presidents is now open to everyone. Thus allowing limitless talent to potentially become world leaders.

Men and women who languish (for lack of a better word) in local government can now think higher. Children who view the celebration today can actually visualize being sworn in themselves.

Black kids will no longer have to exclusively look to sports for their heroes. This broadens the discussion in every household in America and even abroad.

Black people are hype for the first time in this nation’s history!

Do you really understand what that means? There will be racism regardless of who is the president, but at least Blacks (and other minorities whose voices are not as pronounced) can stick their collective chests out and have love for their country.

This will be characterized as a new era of responsibility.

I’m never naive, but to be straight up, my support is behind Barack Obama. He is our president and I will respect his leadership.

But it should have been MLK…

As a kid, I revered MLK as more than most would a president. I would get upset whenever I saw Mt. Rushmore and wondered where are the Black people? I would think…you mean to tell me of all the millions of Blacks who’ve lived and died…not one was qualified to be President of the United States? None? That’s absurd.

Remember next to the big fork and spoon on the wall in numerous households, there would be a picture of Martin Luther King Jr.? It seems like his legacy afforded Blacks the opportunity to be president but does it stop there?

We as people need to get rid of the restraints of negativity. Think about it for a second and you’ll realize most people are cynical. There’s no trust. There’s hardly any love. People don’t speak who live right next door. No one cares about their fellow man. Kids cuss out their parents in public. Little grand ladies now longer get a helping hand across the street. Lawlessness all over the place. You can’t tell the cops from the robbers. Rampant disrespect. Child neglect. Promises are not kept.

How do you we change? Since we seem to be preoccupied with controversy, is this country ever going to get up from under itself?

I get in debates with fellow journalists all the time regarding how we should judge ourselves as a nation. Most say it’s not gonna change. They chide me for caring about people I don’t know. They say it’s beyond my control so why care?

I’m an optimist. I challenge myself to see things through regardless of any obstacle. Sometimes I fail, but I always get up. Most of my thought is derived through the future of my children. I’d hate to think they are being mistreated on a daily basis. I expect them to respect those who give them respect. They are never far from my mind, so it’s natural for their conscious to speak through me in relevant conversations.

Barack Obama is about to take over the presidency in a time where nothing is safe economically. Credit cards are next to fall. What is he to do about Gitmo? Will heads roll regarding the torture on America’s hands? It will get worse before it gets better but give him a chance.

Potentially he has the chance to be one of the best presidents ever because of the adversity this country faces.

By linking both parties in and outside of his cabinet, President Obama is making a concerted and genuine effort to unite this nation.

Who can hate this decision? Why should you?

People voted for Obama because they are sick of worrying about how they will be able to spend their hard earned money. Americans felt like they were lied to. They question why we are in Iraq if Bin Laden was in Afghanistan. Partisan politics and fake patriotism prohibited this nation from stepping back and properly scrutinizing questionable Bush decisions. Decisions which ultimately led to the deaths of many of our sons and daughters for what some people have long called an unnecessary war.

Americans noticed and took their more informed opinions into the voting booth and kicked the Republicans at large into oblivion–for the moment.

The previous administration knew fear was rampant and conveniently jumped at the chance to occupy the Middle East.

Also, who can forget Katrina? Yes, there were bad decisions made across the board, but as our leader, George Bush failed us all by his slow response and hiding behind red tape. He and his people were banking on the past. A past where the majority supports a Republican president–blindly–who cares not about those less fortunate despite being in dire straits themselves.

We live in a new era of consciousness. Politicians will be under intense scrutiny until the end of days. Yes, there will be bad future presidents of every party affiliation, but this is a start.

That’s all this is. It’s a start of this nation finally judging itself accordingly and totally. It’s crazy to say it, but there are a lot of people who were racist at one time or another in their lives who voted for a Black man named Barack Obama.

Even if Barack flops as president, politics as we know it are now different than anything ever envisioned. People who voted in this election now realize their voice is in fact, relevant. There will be families placing a priority on their children registering to vote. That means more thoughts, more hopes, more dreams.

It’s immaterial whether you see Barack as a savior. I sure don’t. He’s a man who breathes just like anyone else. He has his faults just like anyone else and will have anxious moments like any other president.

The difference is he’ll have the support of more citizens than any other of his predecessors. Republicans and Democrats will think twice of how they vote because they will be worried if their making the right decision for their constituency.

No more fear, because if MLK wasn’t fearful, then why should we all be?

Barack Obama has been sworn in as the 44th US president. Here is his inauguration speech in full in video and then text.

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.

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.

Serious challenges

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.

Nation of ‘risk-takers’

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 labour, 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 ploughed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

‘Remaking America’

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. All this we will do.

Restoring trust

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 – that a nation cannot prosper long when it favours 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 the ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart – not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

‘Ready to lead’

As for our common defence, 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 we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with the 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 spectre of a warming planet. We will not apologise for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defence, 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.

‘Era of peace’

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.

‘Duties’

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, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honour 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 – honesty and hard work, 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.

‘Gift of freedom’

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 60 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.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.

9 Responses to “January 20th, 2009: The Day Barack Obama Becomes the 44th President of the United States”

  1. Ananth says:

    Lovely… Its indeed a historic moment.. America’s great to have done this :)

  2. KevDog says:

    His speech was brilliant, flawless. I am overwhelmed.

  3. Temple3 says:

    Whooooosh….

    The fact that there are only 2 comments (now 3) says a great deal about the significance of this event.

    Purely transcendant on so many levels. Back to the silence….

  4. michelle says:

    I haven’t stopped crying. President Obama is the right man for the job.

    I can’t put my feelings into words. KevDog said it best. I to am overwhelmed.

  5. Miranda says:

    Watching Michelle hold that bible was so significant to me. Watching her mother……watching those two little girls who behave and dress as little girls – beautiful, just absolutely beautiful to watch.

  6. KevDog says:

    Have had time to gather my thoughts.

    Obama’s speech was brilliant. One of the greatest repudiation of the worst in humanity and conversely one of the greatest affirmations of the best of humanity. Those who believe in the IDEALS that represent the most noble of what we stand for as a nation were able to hear, in the starkest terms the President’s commitment to leading our nation towards those ideals and away from the politics of hatred, exclusion and faith-led policy-think Terri Schiavo and Stem Cell research.

    If the 19th century was the last gasp of imperialism and the 20th the beginning of world-wide democracy, the 21’s will definitely be the century when humanity starts to see itself as interconnected and interdependent. President Obama clearly understands this paradigm and the challenges we face along the way.

    I cried for many reasons this morning, one of which was the simple notion that our nation is now led by a man of vision, principle and intelligence. One who leads towards the very best in us, not the very worst. It’s about time.

    On a personal note.
    Obama is about 2 years older than I am and we share some very common traits. We were in the 80’s young, gifted and black. We both grew up poor and in non-traditional households. We both exceeded any expectations initially set for us. He started at Occidental College and transfered to Columbia and then went on to Harvard Law. I dropped out of high school at the age of 16 and started back to school at a community college before finishing college at Occidental College and then on to Stanford Medical School. While Obama was making Law review, I was graduating top 10 in my class.

    The universe we occupied was small, I didn’t know Obama, but I knew of him and I’m sure he knew of me. We were in a unique situation. Young, gifted, aware that we had opportunities the generations of black folks before us could barely imagine. We had the audacity to believe we could be Doctors, Lawyers, Professors, one of my good friends-Stephanie Wilson-has gone into space as an astronaut. But we all felt that at some point, “they” wouldn’t let us achieve something. I never felt that I could be chair of the Emergency department at Stanford for instance, no matter how good I was. None of ever felt that we’d see a black President in our lifetime.

    Then this star, this great man comes out of seemingly nowhere and changes the world, forever.

    The night he was elected, I told my 2 daughters, who were about 10 days old at the time that they could be ANYTHING their talents aspirations and commitment allowed. And for the first time, I meant it.

    I’ve spent decades bitter and angry with this nation for many reasons and most importantly because of it’s waste of human potential and hypocrisy vis-a-vis the huge gap between it’s ideals and it’s reality.

    For the first time in my life, I feel proud to be an American. I feel like a Patriot.

    That I lived to see a black man become President is one of the joys of my life. That those old heads who suffered far more than I ever did or ever could imagine under the harsh brutality of segregation, degradation and discrimination, swallowing their pride, having to live as second class citizens in a land they and their ancestors helped build, living with the fear on a daily basis that one wrong word, or look could get them or their family lynched, lived to see yesterday is THE most profound thing I have ever seen. And I include in that the birth of my children and the daily battle with life and death as the outcome in my job.

    Yesterday was magnificent.

  7. Mizzo says:

    Thanks for the comments everyone–specifically Kev.

    I knew you all had to gather your thoughts. I wrote that off the top of my head because my thoughts aren’t totally formulated as well.

  8. GrandNubian says:

    This event has to be amongst the most transcendental and inspirational in the history of this country. To be honest, I didn’t get all emotional over this event but I have mad respect for those of you who did. The reason my emotions were kept in check is because I always knew (and ‘know’) that black people can do anything IF we are given the opportunity to. Our greatest issue have not been whether or not we can achieve. We know that we can. The issue is whether or not we will be allowed to under this “system” we live under.

    But I think that Obama gives ALL people hope and inspiration. That’s something that has been severely lacking for some time. I think that he will do well but people shouldn’t look to him as a savior. He can’t (and won’t) solve all of our problems. We have to do some things for ourselves, too.

    On another note…..

    I think the fact that Dick Cheney left the White House in a wheelchair is symbolic of he and Bush’s tenure during the last 8 years. They both crippled a nation and it’s only fitting that President Obama lead the nation into healing.

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