President Barack Obama gave his inaugural address today, beginning his second White House term with an ambitious agenda and a call for national unity.
On a cold morning in Washington, D.C., the 44th President asked this great nation to live up to its founding ideals and to bringing about needed change.
Obama invoked the country's history of hardship - be it from the deficit, rising health care costs, climate change and equal rights - and overcoming adversity.
"We are made for this moment, and we will seize it - so long as we seize it together," Obama said, after taking the oath and being sworn in for a second term.
He urged citizens to meet "the obligation to shape the debates of our time - not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our enduring ideals."
Amid the pomp and ceremony, the event symbolized U.S. democracy with a peaceful extension of power based on 2012's bitterly contested election.
While focusing on broader themes of democracy and citizenship, Obama referred to some specific issues facing the country after his first four years in power:
- Economic disparity: Obama said Americans understand that "our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it."
- Spending: He rejects "that we must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future."
- Climate change: Obama vowed to "respond to the threat ... knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations."
- Gun control: The President said "all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown" should be safe from harm.
- World peace: Americans "still believe that enduring security and peace do not require perpetual war" and that "engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear."
- Equality: Perhaps Obama's loudest cheer came when he said we should not rest "until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts," and "until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law."
Unlike Obama's 2009 inauguration, he cast a more optimistic tone for the next four years as he laid out his vision for America in strokes both broad and specific.
What did you think of the speech? And of the prospects for the next four years under Obama's leadership in general? Comment (and vote) below!
President Obama's second term: How will it go?