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MR. OBAMA: Thank you. Thank you so much. Vice President Biden, Mr. Chief

Justice, Members of the United States Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow



Each time we gather to inaugurate a president, we bear witness to the

enduring strength of our Constitution. We affirm the promise of our democracy.

We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or

the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names. What makes us exceptional –

what makes us American – is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a

declaration made more than two centuries ago:



“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,

that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that

among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”


Today we continue a never-ending journey, to bridge the meaning of those

words with the realities of our time. For history tells us that while these

truths may be self-evident, they have never been self-executing; that while

freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth. The

patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the

privileges of a few or the rule of a mob. They gave to us a Republic, a

government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep

safe our founding creed.


For more than two hundred years, we have.


Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no

union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave

and half-free. We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together.


Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and

highways to speed travel and commerce; schools and colleges to train our



Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are

rules to ensure competition and fair play.


Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and

protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.


Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central

authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be

cured through government alone. Our celebration of initiative and enterprise;

our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, these are constants in

our character.


But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that

fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges;

that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.

For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting

alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism

with muskets and militias. No single person can train all the math and science

teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and

networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our

shores. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation,

and one people.




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