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Barack Obama Sworn In As U.S. President
BayBak, Azerbaijan | 1579 days ago | Tuesday, 20th January , 2009 , 20:15 [pm] | International
|.|| Barack Obama has taken the oath of office to become the 44th president of the United States.
The former state and national legislator was sworn in on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, with a crowd of up to 2 million people gathered on the National Mall and an estimated 1 billion others watching on television around the globe
Barack Obama has taken the oath of office to become the 44th president of the United States.
The former state and national legislator was sworn in on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, with a crowd of up to 2 million people gathered on the National Mall and an estimated 1 billion others watching on television around the globe.
Making history as the first African-American to become president, Obama took the oath of office with his hand on a Bible used by President Abraham Lincoln, also a former senator from Illinois, at his first inauguration in 1861.
In his inauguration speech, Obama called for a “new era of responsibility,” and said the time has come for the United States to “renew its spirit” and reaffirm “the promise of this nation.”
Obama said the challenges the United States faces “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 made reference to the historic nature of his assent to the presidency, noting that “a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.” He praised “that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.”
Turning to international relations, he said, “To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.”
In attendance at the ceremony on the west side of the Capitol were outgoing President George W. Bush and former Presidents Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush, and Jimmy Carter.
Pastor Rick Warren addressed the crowd before Obama’s swearing-in, calling the event a “hinge-point of history.”
The level of security has been unprecedented for Washington, D.C. — perhaps anywhere. Over 100 streets have been closed to traffic since Monday afternoon, and seven bridges leading from Virginia to Washington were off limits to virtually all traffic. In the area around the National Mall, where the monuments and Capitol are situated, sharpshooters stood watch on rooftops and helicopters circled overhead.
More than 5,000 security cameras provided electronic surveillance of the crowds, and groups of police and National Guard could be seen everywhere, ready to offer assistance or spring into action if a threat erupted.
During a full day of inaugural festivities, Obama and his family, along with the family of Vice President Joe Biden, attended a private service at St. John’s Episcopal Church, a tradition for incoming presidents.
Also in keeping with tradition, the Obamas and Bidens met with President Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney and their wives at the White House shortly before the inauguration.
Little Time For Celebration
Obama’s election to the presidency has been greeted with a groundswell of optimism by many Americans, for whom Obama represents a stark change from the two terms of President Bush. For African-Americans, the inauguration of the son of a black Kenyan father and a white mother from Kansas holds particular historical significance.
Obama has stressed that he will quickly get down to work after the inaugural celebrations. Reuters quoted military officials as saying that the new president will meet with top defense officials on January 21 to discuss speeding up the drawdown of U.S. troops from Iraq, to fulfill his campaign promise for a full withdrawal within 16 months. He is also expected to discuss sending more troops to Afghanistan, which he has identified as the key front in U.S. efforts against terrorism, with a Pentagon delegation led by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The president is also expected on January 21 to start promoting an $825 billion economic-stimulus plan intended to prevent further recession.
“The Washington Post” reported that another immediate move for Obama will be to name Northern Ireland peace negotiator George Mitchell as his Middle East envoy to deal swiftly with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.rferl, Voice of a Nation