WASHINGTON, D.C. — We the people.
We the people, President Barack Obama said, more than ever, must work together as one nation, as one people.
Evoking the Declaration of Independence, Obama called for the pursuit of the document’s ideals through collective action and cooperation.
During his second inaugural address, Obama addressed the crowd of more than 800,000. He faced the challenge of addressing his people four years after his first inaugural speech revealed many aspirations that remain unfulfilled.
“Faith in America’s future” was the theme of Monday’s inauguration.
The theme of faith ran throughout the ceremony — faith in the country and its future prosperity, faith in each other to work together and faith, ultimately, in Obama.
He addressed the deficit, saying difficult choices must be made to reduce it, as well as healthcare spending, but caution will remain.
“We reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future,” he said.
Moments of near-silence were punctuated by loud eruptions of cheering, such as when the president discussed equality.
He emphasized it throughout the speech, including equal pay for women, full legal rights for homosexuals and non-discrimination against the downtrodden and poor.
“We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths — that all of us are created equal — is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall, just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone.”
The topic of climate change and preserving the earth also arose, with Obama putting forth a desire to lead development in that sector.
He asserted the United States’ role as leader of the world, maintained not through war but, “through strength of arms and rule of law.”
Obama also addressed immigration, a topic largely tabled in his first administration, saying it’s time to reform the process.
He closed with a charge to the public and to himself to uphold the values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all Americans.
“Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life,” he said. “It does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way, or follow the same precise path to happiness. Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time, but it does require us to act in our time.”
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