Amidst a crowd of an estimated 1.8 million Americans, Barack Obama cemented his place in history as not only being America’s 44th president, but the first African-American president, and bound the nation together with a message of unity.Facing a sea of humanity, Obama took the Oath of Office and officially brought an end to George W. Bush’s presidency.
Broadcast in many countries, including Kenya, Indonesia, and Afghanistan, history was witnessed worldwide.
Obama’s first act as president was to address the nation and lay out his goals and plans for the next four years. Immediately acknowledging there were problems and hurdles that will be faced in the coming weeks and years. Obama said, “every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms.”
Obama described the risks and challenges that America is in the midst of facing. He acknowledged the declining state of the nation’s economy, the threat of terrorism we have been facing and will face in the future, costly health-care and the crisis our planet faces as its resources are consumed without consequence.
Obama seemed to inspire the crowd before him and all those watching across the globe. He did not state these to instill fear in the heart of Americans, but to draw attention and unite the nation to restore triumph and confidence amongst the people he was chosen to represent. “On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord,” Obama said. He noted that the people of America share common ground in the problems at hand, and cannot waiver in the process of solving them.
“The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit,” Obama continued. President Obama stated how these problems will not be solved immediately, but instead must be worked on over time in order to be solved.
In summing up America’s history of resolve, Obama said, “Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less.” Obama furthered this stance by stating, “With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come.”
President Obama faced each issue that will need to be wrestled with in the near future individually.
Most notably, Obama expressed confidence in the American economic future.
“Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year.”
Obama stated his plan to create new jobs in order to help unemployment and stimulate the sagging economy. He called for a restructuring of infrastructure. Obama announced plans to build and repair the nation’s roads, highways and bridges. Plans to improve and expand the means that “bind us,” such as electrical grids and digital networks, are in the works.
In this economic depression Obama seeks to not only improve infrastructure, but to improve the education system to create bright futures for the youth of America.
“Our schools fail too many,” explained Obama. The 44th President seeks to reform secondary education and universities in order to prepare America for what he called “a new age.”
Also on the Obama agenda is reworking foreign relations. The crux of Obama’s speech was unity, commonality and connectedness. He seeks to apply such things to foreign policy as well.
Obama announced, “Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort, even greater cooperation and understanding between nations.”
Obama sought to re-establish America as a melting pot of world cultures. He states our nation is one of diverse languages, heritages, and religious beliefs ranging from devout believer to agnostic. This is done with the hopes of showing that peace and unity can be accomplished through acceptance and cooperation.
“We cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself,” Obama asserted.
Obama specifically addressed Muslim extremists which challenge the American way of life.
The newly inaugurated President said that leaders are remembered by what they create and build, and not by what they can destroy. Once again Obama seeks to solve differences through unity and peace.
“We will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist,” properly summarizes the type of foreign policy Obama seeks to employ from his seat in the Oval Office.
Obama’s “extended hand” will apply to impoverished nations as well. People who suffer from a lack of sustenance and clean water will also be extended Obama’s hope. Obama also expressed his hope that other nations will hold out their hands to promote progress and change.
Obama also aims to use unity to restore America’s faith in its government. According to Obama, American government relies on the trust between itself and the people it aims to serve. Admittedly, the current state of the nation has called citizens to question the legitimacy and honesty of the government. But, Obama has placed the “Under New Management” sign on the door of the White House. He seeks to spend more wisely and place a magnifying glass under those who are responsible for spending, including himself.
“And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account, to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day,” Obama said.
Without placing focus on this unique historic event, President Obama did not separate himself from the millions of people watching across the United States and the world. Instead he focused on the solidarity of a nation. A nation that had begun to drag its feet on the march to prosperity, as if it were collectively tired.
With his message of unity, Obama conveyed hope and innovation to his audience. “Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America,” Barack Obama pronounced as his voice echoed off the monuments that pay tribute to the men who came before him.
Jordan Demain is a fourth-year student majoring in English with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at