2013 Inauguration Ceremony

Ladies and gentlemen, the
daughters of the President, Malia Obama and Sasha Obama. Also, Miss Marian
Robinson, accompanied by Catlynn O'Neill [phonetic]. ♪♪(music playing)♪♪ Announcer:
Ladies and gentlemen,
Dr. Jill Biden, accompanied by Mrs. Alexander,
Mrs. Boehner, Mrs. Cantor, Assistant Secretary of
the Senate Sheila Dwyer, and Deputy Clerk of the House of
Representatives Robert Reeves. ♪♪(music playing)♪♪ (no audio) Announcer:
Ladies and gentlemen, the
First Lady of the United States, Mrs. Michelle Obama, accompanied
by Secretary of the Senate Nancy Erickson, Clerk of the House
of Representatives Karen Haas, Mrs. Schumer, Mrs.
Reid, and Mr. Pelosi. ♪♪(music playing)♪♪ (no audio) ♪♪(music playing)♪♪ Announcer:
Ladies and gentlemen, the Vice
President of the United States, Joseph R. Biden, accompanied by
Inaugural Coordinator for the Joint Congressional Committee on
Inaugural Ceremonies Kelly Fado, Senate Deputy Sergeant
at Arms Martina Bradford, House Deputy Sergeant
at Arms Kerri Hanley, Senate Majority
Leader Harry Reid, and House Democratic
Leader Nancy Pelosi. ♪♪(music playing)♪♪ (no audio) ♪♪(music playing)♪♪ (no audio) ♪♪(music playing)♪♪ Announcer:
Ladies and gentlemen, the
President of the United States, Barack H. Obama, accompanied
by Staff Director for the Joint Congressional Committee on
Inaugural Ceremonies Jean Parvin Bordewich, Senate Sergeant
at Arms Terrance W. Gainer, the House Sergeant
at Arms Paul Irving, Chairman of the Joint
Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies
Senator Charles E. Schumer, Senator Lamar Alexander,
the Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner,
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Majority
Leader Eric Cantor, and House Democratic
Leader Nancy Pelosi. ♪♪(music playing)♪♪ (no audio) ♪♪(music playing)♪♪ Announcer:
Please be seated. Ladies and gentlemen,
the Chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee
for Inaugural Ceremonies, the Honorable
Charles E. Schumer. (cheers and applause) Senator Charles Schumer:
Mr. President, Mr. Vice
President, Members of Congress, all who are present and
to all who are watching, welcome to the Capitol and
to this celebration of our great democracy. Now, this is the 57th
inauguration of an American president and no matter how many
times one witnesses this event, its simplicity, its innate
majesty and, most of all, its meaning, that sacred yet
cautious entrusting of power from we the people to our chosen
leader never fails to make one's heart beat faster as it will
today with the inauguration of President Barack H. Obama. Now, we know that we would not
be here today were it not for those who stand guard around the
world to preserve our freedom. To those in our armed forces, we
offer our infinite thanks for your bravery, your
honor, your sacrifice. This democracy of ours was
forged by intellect and argument, by activism
and blood and, above all, from John Adams to Elizabeth
Cady Stanton to Martin Luther King, by a stubborn adherence
to the notion that we are all created equal and that we
deserve nothing less than a great republic worthy
of our consent. The theme of this year's
inaugural is faith in America's future. The perfect embodiment to this
unshakable confidence in the ongoing success of our
collective journey is an event from our past. I speak of the improbable
completion of the Capitol Dome and capping witness with the
statue of freedom which occurred 150 years ago in 1863. When Abraham Lincoln took
office two years earlier, the dome above us was
a half-built eyesore. Conventional wisdom was that it
should be left unfinished until the war ended given the
travails and financial needs of the times. But to President Lincoln, the
half-finished dome symbolized the half-divided nation. Lincoln said, "If people
see the Capitol going on, "it is a sign we intend
the Union shall go on." And, so, despite the conflict
with which engulfed the nation and surrounded the city,
the dome continued to rise. On December 2, 1863, the
statue of freedom, a woman, was placed atop the dome
where she still stands today. In a sublime irony, it was a
former slave, now free American, Philip Reid, who helped
to cast the bronze statue. Now, our present times are not
as perilous or as despairing as they were in 1863, but in 2013
far too many doubt the future of this great nation, and our
ability to tackle our own era's half-finished domes. Today's problems are
intractable they say. The times are so complex, the
differences in the country and the world so deep, we
will never overcome them. When thoughts like these produce
anxiety, fear and even despair, we do well to remember that
Americans have always been and still are a practical,
optimistic, problem-solving people, and
that as our history shows, no matter how steep the climb,
how difficult the problems, how half finished that tasks,
America always rises to the occasion, America prevails
and America prospers. (applause) And those who bet against this
country have inevitably been on the wrong side of history. So it is a good moment to gaze
upward and behold the statue of freedom at the top
of the Capitol dome. It is a good moment to gain
strengths and courage and humility from those who were
determined to complete the half-finished dome. It is a good moment to rejoice
today at this 57th presidential inaugural ceremony. And it is the perfect moment to
renew our collective faiths (ph) in the future of America. (applause) Thank you. And God bless these
United States. (cheers and applause) In that spirit of faith, I would
now like to introduce civil rights leader Myrlie Evers,
who has committed her life to extending the promise of our
nation's founding principles to all Americans. Mrs. Evers will lead
us in the invocation. (applause) (no audio) Myrlie Evers-Williams:
America, we are here, our
nation's capital, on this day, January the 21st, 2013, the
inauguration of our 45th president, Barack Obama. We come at this time to ask
blessings upon our leaders, the President, Vice President,
Members of Congress, all elected and appointed
officials of the United States of America. We are here to ask blessings
upon our armed forces, blessings upon all who
contribute to the essence of the American spirit,
the American dream, the opportunity to become
whatever our mankind, womankind allows us to be. This is the promise of America. As we sing the words of
belief, "This Is My Country," let us act upon the meaning
that everyone is included. May the inherent dignity and
inalienable rights of every woman, man, boy and
girl be honored. May all your people,
especially the least of these, flourish in our blessed nation. One hundred-fifty years after
the Emancipation Proclamation and 50 years after the
March on Washington, we celebrate the spirit
of our ancestors, which has allowed us to move
from a nation of unborn hopes and a history of
disenfranchised votes, to today's expression
of a more perfect union. We ask, too, Almighty, that
where our paths seem blanketed by throngs of oppression and
riddled by pangs of despair, we ask for your guidance toward
the light of deliverance and that the vision of those who
came before us and dreamed of this day, that we recognize that
their visions still inspire us. They are a great cloud of
witnesses unseen by the naked eye, but all around us,
thankful that their living was not in vain. For every mountain, you gave
us the strength to climb. Your grace is pleaded to
continue that climb for America and the world. We now stand beneath the shadow
of the nation's capital, whose golden dome reflects the
unity and democracy of one nation, indivisible, with
liberty and justice for all. Approximately four miles
from where we are assembled, the hallowed remains of men
and women rest in Arlington Cemetery, they who believed,
fought and died for this country. May their spirit infuse our
being to work together with respect, enabling us to
continue to build this nation, and in so doing we send a
message to the world that we are strong, fierce in our strength,
and ever vigilant in our pursuit of freedom. We ask that you grant our
president the will to act courageously, but cautiously
when confronted with danger, and to act prudently, but
deliberately when challenged by adversity. Please continue to bless his
efforts to lead by example in consideration and favor of
the diversity of our people. Bless our families all
across this nation. We thank you for this
opportunity of prayer to strengthen us for the journey
through the days that lie ahead. We invoke the prayers
of our grandmothers, who taught us to pray. God, make me a blessing. Let their spirit guide us as
we claim the spirit of old. There's something within
me that holds the reins. There's something within
me that banishes pain. There's something within
me I cannot explain. But all I know, America —
there is something within. There is something within. In Jesus' name, in the name
of all who are holy and right, we pray. Amen. Crowd:
Amen. (cheers and applause) Senator Schumer:
I am pleased to introduce the
award-winning Tabernacle Choir — the Brooklyn Tabernacle
Choir — to sing, "Battle Hymn of the Republic." ♪♪(music playing)♪♪ Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir:
♪ Glory, glory, hallelujah! ♪ ♪ Glory, glory, hallelujah! ♪ ♪ Glory, glory, hallelujah! ♪ ♪ His truth is marching on ♪ ♪♪(music playing)♪♪ ♪ Mine eyes have seen the glory
of the coming of the Lord ♪ ♪ He is trampling
out the vintage ♪ ♪ Where the grapes
of wrath are stored ♪ ♪ He has loosed the
fateful lightning ♪ ♪ Of His terrible swift sword ♪ ♪ His truth is marching on ♪ ♪ Glory, glory, hallelujah! ♪ ♪ Glory, glory, hallelujah! ♪ ♪ Glory, glory, hallelujah! ♪ ♪ His truth is marching on ♪ ♪ His truth is marching on ♪ ♪♪(music playing)♪♪ ♪ In the beauty of the lilies ♪ ♪ Christ was born
across the sea ♪ ♪ With a glory in His bosom ♪ ♪ That transfigures you and me ♪ ♪ As He died to make men holy ♪ ♪ Let us die to make men free ♪ ♪ While God is marching on ♪ ♪ Glory, glory, hallelujah! ♪ ♪ Glory, glory, hallelujah! ♪ ♪ Glory, glory, hallelujah! ♪ ♪ While God is marching on ♪ ♪ Marching on ♪ ♪ Glory, glory, hallelujah! ♪ ♪ Glory, glory, hallelujah! ♪ ♪ Glory, oh, glory,
hallelujah! ♪ ♪ His truth is marching on ♪ ♪ Marching on ♪ ♪ While God is marching on ♪ (cheers and applause) Senator Schumer:
Please join me in welcoming
my colleague and my friend, the Senator from Tennessee,
the Honorable Lamar Alexander. (cheers and applause) Senator Alexander:
Mr. President, Mr. Vice
President, ladies and gentlemen, the late Alex Haley,
the author of "Roots," lived his life by
these six words: Find the good and praise it. Today we praise the American
tradition of transferring, or reaffirming immense power
in the inauguration of the President of the United States. We do this in a
peaceful, orderly way. There is no mob. No coup. No insurrection. This is a moment when
millions stop and watch. A moment most of us
always will remember. It is a moment that is our most
conspicuous and enduring symbol of the American Democracy. How remarkable that this has
survived for so long in such a complex country when so
much power is at stake. This freedom to vote
for our leaders, and the restraint to
respect the results. Last year, at Mount Vernon, a
tour guide told me that our first president,
George Washington, once posed this question,
"What is most important," Washington asked,
"of this grand experiment, "the United States?" And then Washington answered
his own question in this way, "Not the election of
the first president, "but the election of
its second president. "The peaceful transfer of power
is what will separate our "country from every other
country in the world." So today we celebrate the
57th inauguration of the American president. Find the good and praise it. Now, it is my honor — (applause) It is my honor to introduce the
associate justice of the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor, for the
purpose of administering the Oath of Office to
the Vice President. Will everyone please stand? Justice Sotomayor:
Thank you, sir. Senator Schumer:
Thank you. The Vice President:
Thanks for doing this. Justice Sotomayor:
Thank you. Mr. Vice President, please raise
your right hand and repeat after me. I, Joseph R. Biden, Jr.,
do solemnly swear — The Vice President:
I, Joseph R. Biden, Jr.,
do solemnly swear — Justice Sotomayor:
— that I will support and
defend the Constitution of the United States — The Vice President:
— that I will support and
defend the Constitution of the United States — Justice Sotomayor:
— against all enemies,
foreign and domestic — The Vice President:
— against all enemies,
foreign and domestic — Justice Sotomayor:
— that I will bear true faith
and allegiance to the same — The Vice President:
— that I will bear true faith
and allegiance to the same — Justice Sotomayor:
— that I take this
obligation freely — The Vice President:
— that I take this
obligation freely — Justice Sotomayor:
— without any mental
reservation or purpose of evasion — The Vice President:
— without any mental
reservation or purpose of evasion — Justice Sotomayor:
— and that I will well
and faithfully discharge — The Vice President:
— and that I will well
and faithfully discharge — Justice Sotomayor:
— the duties of the office on
which I am about to enter — The Vice President:
— the duties of the office
upon which I am about to enter — Justice Sotomayor:
— so help me, God. The Vice President:
— so help me, God. Justice Sotomayor: Congratulations. (cheers and applause) ♪♪(music playing)♪♪ Senator Schumer:
It is my pleasure to introduce
renowned musical artist, James Taylor. (cheers and applause) (no audio) James Taylor:
♪♪(playing guitar)♪♪ (singing)
♪ O beautiful for
spacious skies ♪ ♪ For amber waves of grain ♪ ♪ For purple
mountain majesties ♪ ♪ Above the fruited plain ♪ ♪ America, America ♪ ♪ God shed His grace on thee ♪ ♪ And crown thy good
with brotherhood ♪ ♪ From sea to shining sea ♪ ♪ From sea to shining sea ♪ (applause) Senator Schumer:
It is my honor to present the
Chief Justice of the United States, John G. Roberts,
Jr., who will administer the Presidential Oath of Office. Everyone, please rise. (cheers and applause) Chief Justice Roberts:
Please raise your right
hand and repeat after me. I, Barack Hussein Obama,
do solemnly swear — The President:
I, Barack Hussein Obama,
do solemnly swear — Chief Justice Roberts:
— that I will
faithfully execute — The President:
— that I will
faithfully execute — Chief Justice Roberts:
— the office of president
of the United States — The President:
— the office of president
of the United States — Chief Justice Roberts:
— and will, to the
best of my ability — The President:
— and will, to the
best of my ability — Chief Justice Roberts:
— preserve, protect
and defend — The President:
— preserve, protect
and defend — Chief Justice Roberts:
— the Constitution
of the United States. The President:
— the Constitution
of the United States. Chief Justice Roberts:
So help you God? The President:
So help me God. Chief Justice Roberts:
Congratulations, Mr. President. Well done. (applause) United States Marine Band:
♪♪ ("Hail to the Chief") ♪♪ (cannon fire) Senator Schumer:
Ladies and gentlemen. It is my great privilege and
distinct honor to introduce the 44th President of the
United States of America, Barack H. Obama. (cheers and applause) The President:
Thank you. (cheers and applause) Thank you. (applause) Thank you so much. (applause) Vice President Biden, Mr. Chief
Justice, members of the United States Congress, distinguished
guests, and fellow citizens, 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 America 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. (applause) That they are endowed by their
creator with certain unalienable rights, and 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've
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. And for more than
200 years we have. Through blood drawn by lash, and
blood drawn by sword, we noted 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 workers. Together we discovered that a
free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure
competition and fair play. Together we resolve 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. For 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. (applause) This generation of Americans
has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and
proved our resilience. A decade of war is now ending. (applause) And economic recovery has begun. (applause) America's possibilities are
limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world
without boundaries demands: youth and drive, diversity and
openness, of endless capacity for risk and a gift
for reinvention. My fellow Americans, we are
made for this moment and we will seize it, so long
as we seize it together. (applause) For we, the people, understand
that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very
well and a growing many barely make it. (applause) We believe that America's
prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of
a rising middle class. We know that America thrives
when every person can find independence and pride in their
work, when the wages of honest labor will liberate families
from the brink of hardship. We are true to our creed when
a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she
has the same chance to succeed as anybody else because she is
an American, she is free, and she is equal not just in the
eyes of God but also in our own. (applause) We understand that outworn
programs are inadequate to the needs of our time. So we must harness new ideas
and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code,
reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills
they need to work hard or learn more, reach higher. But while the means will
change, our purpose endures. A nation that rewards the effort
and determination of every single American, that is
what this moment requires. That is what will give
real meaning to our creed. We, the people, still believe
that every citizen deserves a basic measure of
security and dignity. We must make the hard choices
to reduce the cost of health care and the size
of our deficit. (applause) But 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. (applause) For we remember the lessons of
our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty and
parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn. We do not believe that in this
country freedom is reserved for the lucky or
happiness for the few. We recognize that no matter how
responsibly we live our lives, any one of us at any time may
face a job loss or a sudden illness or a home swept
away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to
each other through Medicare and Medicaid and
Social Security, these things do not
sap our initiative. They strengthen us. (applause) They do not make us
a nation of takers. They free us to take the risks
that make this country great. (applause) We, the people, still believe
that our obligations as Americans are not just to
ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of
climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would
betray our children and future generations. (applause) Some may still deny the
overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the
devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought,
and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable
energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But American cannot
resist this transition. We must lead it. (applause) We cannot cede to other nations
the technology that will power new jobs and new industries. We must claim its promise. That's how we will maintain
our economic vitality and our national treasure, our forests
and waterways, our crop lands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve
our planet, commanded to our care by God. That's what will lend
meaning to the creed our fathers once declared. We, the people, still believe
that enduring security and lasting peace do not
require perpetual war. (applause) Our brave men and women in
uniform tempered by the flames of battle are unmatched
in skill and courage. (applause) Our citizens seared by the
memory of those we have lost, know too well the price
that is paid for liberty. The knowledge of their sacrifice
will keep us forever vigilant against those who
would do us harm. But we are also heirs to those
who won the peace, and not just the war; who turn sworn enemies
into the surest of friends. And we must carry those
lessons into this time as well. We will defend our people,
and uphold our values through strength of arms,
and the rule of law. We will show the courage to try
and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully. Not because we are naive about
the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably
lift suspicion and fear. (applause) America will remain the anchor
of strong alliances in every corner of the globe. And we will renew those
institutions that extend our capacity to
manage crisis abroad. For no one has a greater stake
in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation. We will support democracy
from Asia to Africa, from the Americas to the Middle East,
because our interests and our conscience compel us to act
on behalf of those who long for freedom. And we must be a source of
hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the
victims of prejudice. Not out of mere charity, but
because peace in our time requires the constant advance
of those principles that our common creed describes;
tolerance and opportunity, human dignity and justice. 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; to hear a King proclaim that
our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the
freedom of every soul on Earth. (applause) It is now our generation's task
to carry on what those pioneers began, for our journey is not
complete until our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn
a living equal to their efforts. (applause) Our journey is not complete
until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone
else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then
surely the love we commit to one another must be equal, as well. (applause) Our journey is not complete
until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to
exercise the right to vote. (applause) Our journey is not complete
until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful
immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity,
until bright young students and engineers are enlisted
in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. (applause) Our journey is not complete
until 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. That is our generation's task,
to make these works, these rights, these values of life
and liberty and the pursuit of happiness real
for every American. Being true to our founding
documents does not require us to agree on every
contour of life. It does not mean we all define
liberty in exactly the same way or follow the same
precise path to happiness. Progress does not compel us to
settle century's long debates about the role of government for
all time, but it does require us to act in our time. (applause) For now, decisions are upon
us and we cannot afford delay. We cannot mistake absolutism
for principle or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat
name-calling as reasoned debate. (applause) We must act. We must act knowing that
our work will be imperfect. We must act knowing that today's
victories will be only partial, and that it will be up to those
who stand here in four years and 40 years and 400 years hence
to advance the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a
spare Philadelphia hall. My fellow Americans, the oath
I have sworn before you today, like the one recited by others
who serve in this Capitol, was an oath to God and country,
not party or faction. And we must faithfully execute
that pledge during the duration of our service. But the words I spoke today are
not so different from the oath that is taken each time a
soldier signs up for duty, or an immigrant
realizes her dream. My oath is not so different from
the pledge we all make to the flag that waves above and that
fills our hearts with pride. They are the words of
citizens, and they represent our greatest hope. You and I, as citizens,
have the power to set this country's course. You and I, as citizens, have the
obligation to shape the debates of our time, not only with the
votes we cast, but the voices we lift in defense of our
most ancient values and enduring ideals. (applause) Let us each of us now embrace
with solemn duty, and awesome joy, what is our
lasting birthright. With common effort and common
purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the
call of history and carry into an uncertain future that
precious light of freedom. Thank you. God bless you. And may He forever bless these
United States of America. (cheers and applause) Senator Schumer:
At this time, please join me
in welcoming award-winning artist Kelly Clarkson,
accompanied by the United States Marine Band. United States Marine Band:
♪♪ ("My Country 'Tis of Thee") ♪♪ Kelly Clarkson (singing):
♪ My country 'tis of thee ♪ ♪ Sweet land of liberty, ♪ ♪ Of thee I sing. ♪ ♪ Land where my fathers died. ♪ ♪ Land of the Pilgrim's pride. ♪ ♪ From every mountain side, ♪ ♪ Let freedom ring. ♪ ♪ Let music swell the breeze, ♪ ♪ And ring from all the trees ♪ ♪ Sweet freedom's song. ♪ ♪ Let mortal tongues awake; ♪ ♪ Let all that breathe partake; ♪ ♪ Let rocks their silence break, ♪ ♪ The sound prolong. ♪ ♪ Our father's God to, Thee, ♪ ♪ Author of liberty, ♪ ♪ To thee we sing. ♪ ♪ Long may our land be bright ♪ ♪ With freedom's holy light; ♪ ♪ Protect us by Thy might, ♪ ♪ Great God, our King! ♪ (applause) Senator Schumer:
Wow. (laughter) Our next distinguished guest
is the poet Richard Blanco, who will share with us words he
has composed for this occasion. (applause) Richard Blanco:
Mr. President, Mr. Vice
President, America, "One Today." One sun rose on us today,
kindled over our shores, peeking over the Smokies,
greeting the faces of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple
truth across the Great Plains, then charging
across the Rockies. One light, waking up rooftops,
under each one, a story told by our silent gestures
moving behind windows. My face, your face, millions
of faces in morning's mirrors, each one yawning to life,
crescendoing into our day — pencil-yellow school buses,
the rhythm of traffic lights, fruit stands– apples,
limes, and oranges arrayed like rainbows
begging our praise. Silver trucks heavy with oil
or paper — bricks or milk, teeming over highways alongside
us, on our way to clean tables, read ledgers, or save lives —
to teach geometry, or ring up groceries as my mother did for
twenty years, so I could write this poem. All of us as vital as the one
light we move through, the same light on blackboards with
lessons for the day — equations to solve, history to question,
or atoms imagined, the "I have a dream" we keep dreaming, or the
impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won't explain the empty
desks of twenty children marked absent today, and forever. Many prayers, but one light
breathing color into stained glass windows, life into the
faces of bronze statues, warmth onto the steps of our museums
and park benches as mothers watch children
slide into the day. One ground. Our ground, rooting us to every
stalk of corn, every head of wheat sown by sweat and hands,
hands gleaning coal or planting windmills in deserts and
hilltops that keep us warm, hands digging trenches, routing
pipes and cables, hands as worn as my father's cutting sugarcane
so my brother and I could have books and shoes. The dust of farms and deserts,
cities and plains mingled by one wind — our breath. Breathe. Hear it through the day's
gorgeous din of honking cabs, buses launching down avenues,
the symphony of footsteps, guitars, and screeching subways,
the unexpected song bird on your clothes line. Hear: squeaky playground swings,
trains whistling, or whispers across café tables, Hear: the
doors we open for each other all day, saying: hello, shalom,
buon giorno, howdy, namaste, or buenos días in the language my
mother taught me — in every language spoken into one wind
carrying our lives without prejudice, as these
words break from my lips. One sky: since the Appalachians
and Sierras claimed their majesty, and the Mississippi
and Colorado worked their way to the sea. Thank the work of our hands:
weaving steel into bridges, finishing one more report for
the boss on time, stitching another wound or uniform,
the first brush stroke on a portrait, or the last floor on
the Freedom Tower jutting into a sky that yields
to our resilience. One sky, toward which we
sometimes lift our eyes tired from work: some days guessing at
the weather of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love
that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother who knew how
to give, or forgiving a father who couldn't give
what you wanted. We head home: through the gloss
of rain or weight of snow, or the plum blush of dusk,
but always — always home, always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon like a
silent drum tapping on every rooftop and every window, of
one country — all of us — facing the stars hope — a new
constellation waiting for us to map it, waiting for us
to name it — together. (applause) Senator Scumer:
Ladies and gentlemen, it is
now my privilege to introduce Reverend Dr. Luis León to
deliver the benediction. Reverend Dr. Luis León:
Let us pray: Gracious and eternal
God, as we conclude the second inauguration of President
Obama, we ask for your blessings as we seek to become, in the
words of Martin Luther King, citizens of a beloved community,
loving you and loving our neighbors as ourselves. We pray that you will bless us
with your continued presence because without it,
hatred and arrogance will infect our hearts. But with your blessing we know
that we can break down the walls that separate us. We pray for your blessing today
because without it, distrust, prejudice and rancor
will rule our hearts. But with the blessing of your
presence, we know that we can renew the ties of mutual
regard which can best form our civic life. We pray for your blessing
because without it suspicion, despair, and fear of those
different from us will be our rule of life. But with your blessing, we can
see each other created in your image, a unit of God's grace,
unprecedented, irrepeatable and irreplaceable. We pray for your blessing
because without it, we will see only
what the eye can see. But with the blessing of your
blessing we will see that we are created in your image, whether
brown, black or white, male or female, first generation or
immigrant American, or daughter of the American Revolution,
gay or straight, rich or poor. We pray for your blessing
because without it, we will only see scarcity in
the midst of abundance. But with your blessing we will
recognize the abundance of the gifts of this good
land with which you have endowed this nation. We pray for your blessing. Bless all of us, privileged to
be citizens and residents of this nation, with a spirit of
gratitude and humility that we may become a blessing among
the nations of this world. We pray that you will shower
with your life-giving spirit, the elected leaders of this
land, especially Barack our president and Joe
our vice president. Fill them with a love of truth
and righteousness, that they may serve this nation ably and
be glad to do your will. Endow their hearts with wisdom
and forbearance, so that peace may prevail with righteousness,
justice with order, so that men and women throughout this nation
can find with one another the fulfillment of our humanity. We pray that the president, vice
president and all in political authority will remember the
words of the prophet Micah, "What does the Lord require of
you but to do justice, to love kindness and always
walk humbly with God?" Señor Presidente
y vicepresidente, que Dios los bendiga
todos los dias. Mr. President, Mr. Vice
President, may God bless you all your days. All this we pray, in your
most holy name, amen. (applause) Senator Schumer:
Ladies and gentlemen, please
remain standing for the singing of our national anthem by
award-winning artist, Beyoncé, accompanied by the
U.S. Marine Band. Following "The National Anthem,"
please remain at your place while the Presidential
Party exits the platform. United States Marine Band:
♪♪ ("The National Anthem") ♪♪ Beyoncé Knowles (singing):
♪ Oh, say can you see ♪ ♪ by the dawn's early light ♪ ♪ What so proudly we hailed ♪ ♪ at the twilight's last gleaming? ♪ ♪ Whose broad stripes and bright stars ♪ ♪ thru the perilous fight, ♪ ♪ O'er the ramparts we watched ♪ ♪ were so gallantly streaming? ♪ ♪ And the rocket's red glare, ♪ ♪ the bombs bursting in air, ♪ ♪ Gave proof through the night ♪ ♪ that our flag was still there. ♪ ♪ Oh, say does that star-spangled ♪ ♪ banner yet wave ♪ ♪ O'er the land of the free ♪ ♪ and the home of the brave? ♪ ♪ The brave! ♪ (applause)

Michael Martin

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