By Ali Imran
Speaking to an enthusiastic crowd of hundreds of thousands American lined up at the National Mall for grand public swearing-in ceremony for his second term, Obama said the “decade of war is ending.”
“We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war,” Obama declared after he and Vice President Joseph Biden took oath of office for their second White House term, which constitutionally commenced on Sunday. Several hundred thousand people from around the U.S. converged on the capital and braved off chilly winds to attend the ceremony held on Capitol on Monday.
Obama was speaking in the background of U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, started by his predecessor George W Bush in the aftermath of 9/11 terrorist attacks.
In his first term, Obama brought the Iraq war to an end and has promised to conclude the combat mission in Afghanistan with drawdown of American forces by 2014.
In his speech Obama paid tribute to the American men and women in uniform and observed that, Americans, seared by the memory of those lost, know too well the price that is paid for liberty.
“The knowledge of their sacrifice will keep us forever vigilant against those who would do us harm.
“But we are also heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war, who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends, and we must carry those lessons into this time as well,” the first African-American president, joined at the ceremony by the First Lady Michelle Obama, their daughters, and members of Congress, added.
Obama vowed to “defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law.”
“We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully – not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear. “
America, he stated, will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe.
“We will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad, for no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation.
“We will support democracy from Asia to Africa; from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom. And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice – not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity; human dignity and justice.”
Obama also said Washington will respond to the threat of climate change, “knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”
“Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God.”
To his fellow Americans, who have seen decisions and progress on several national issues stall due to partisan politics between Democrats and Republicans at a time of economic downturn, Obama said the economic recovery has begun. The president, whose second-trem inauguration Monday coincided with African-American civil rights hero Martin Luther King’s birthday, a holiday, underscored the message of unity to move forward at a time of challenges and opportunities.
“This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience. A decade of war is now ending. An economic recovery has begun. America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention. My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it – so long as we seize it together.”
- Obama cites democracy, citizenship in inaugural speech (wtkr.com)
- ‘Preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action’… (reuters.com)
- President Obama pays homage to MLK during inaugural address (charlotte.news14.com)
- Obama Seeks Renewal of Optimism at Second Inauguration (bloomberg.com)
- The one substantive foreign policy point in Obama’s inauguration speech (washingtonpost.com)