A new era begins with Obama
Defying severe cold below zero degree temperature above two million cheerful people thronged Washington before dawn and waited patiently and passionately to witness the historic moment when Barack Obama was sworn in as the country’s 44th and the first black President of the United States.
And the defining moment came on the chilly morning at 12:06 pm (2236 IST) when the 47-year-old Obama was administered the oath of office by Supreme Court Chief Justice John G Roberts on the steps of the West Front of the Capitol Hill where the US Congress sits. Just before the momentous oath Joseph Biden, the Democrat’s running mate, was sworn in as Vice President.
Obama, who was very much inspired from the US 16th President Abraham Lincoln, who freed the slaves, and Martin Luther King Jr, a prominent leader in the American civil rights movement, has become the first president who took the oath on the same Bible used to swear in Lincoln in 1861.
Obama, the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas, used his full name, Barack Hussein Obama, an open gesture of recognition of his Muslim father. In his inaugural address, which was enthusiastically being waited by the world, Obama said our first priority at home would be to meet the current economic recession and urged the fellow Americans to usher a “new era of responsibility” at a time of crisis at home and abroad.
He vowed to work with old friends and former foes drawing on the strength of the country's ‘patchwork heritage’ with its diverse faiths - Christians, Muslims, Jews and Hindus.
“For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers,” said Obama.
“With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the spectre of a warming planet,” he exhorted.
“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.”
Obama stated that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more. “To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect,” he said.
Throwing light on his foreign policy in a sharp reversal to the former President George W Bush, Obama said the United States “would responsibly leave Iraq to its people” and “build a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan.”
He, however, pledged to defeat those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror. “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,” a confident looking Obama said.
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