In an historic speech on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, Barack H. Obama took the oath of office on Monday as the nation's 44th president.
During the unifying speech that was delivered on the national observance of MLK Day, and which resonated with the message that "we the people" must work together," Obama,51, who wa surrounded by the first lady and their daughters, laid out an agenda that concentrated on bringing together a divided nation.
"We must act together," the president said in calling on the country's full participation to effect needed change. ""We are made for this moment, and we will seize it -- so long as we seize it together."
Obama, the nation's first African-American president, and the 17th to take the oath of office twice, conveyed that as he begins the next four years at the helm, that he faces many of the same challenges he struggled with during his first term. Among them are rising health care costs, equal rights, federal budget deficits and climate change – all of which Obama noted as ongoing challenges.
He said however, that while the nation faces "hard choices" in eradicating issues, "we resolve that a great nation must care for the vulnerable and protect its people from life's worst hazards and misfortunes."
Also, during the 57th inaugural address which was reminiscent of a State of the Union address, Obama referred to gun control and climate change, stating that the nation would "respond to the threat [of climate change] knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations." He said America is in need of gun control to ensure that "all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm."
The president's focus on equality evoked resounding applause when he said the nation's trek along that path won't be complete "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."
While a subtle statement was made on same-sex unions with the participation of gay poet Richard Blanco on the inaugural program, Obama's speech, for the most part, was a brave and visionary dialogue in which he never asked any sacrifices from the American public. Obama instead, concentrated on government working better for citizens.
Overall, "he [conveyed] that our journey is not complete," said political strategist Donna Brazile. "He also called upon us to answer the call of history together," she said. "I thought it was a very powerful speech, and there were so many references to the journey that we have been through . . . in many ways it was a better speech than he gave four years ago."