Obama scripts history at noon (Second Lead)

January 21st, 2009 - 1:47 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Jan 21 (IANS) Scripting history at noon as the first black president of the United States, Barack Obama Tuesday delivered a vision of what America can become as the world watched the epochal event with fascination and admiration.”Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time,” Obama told hundreds of thousands of people gathered on the National Mall in front of the Capitol to watch history in making.

“But know this, America - they will be met,” he said moments after taking oath shortly post noon, a little behind schedule.

When the moment arrived, Obama, wearing a navy suit and red tie, stood on a flag-bedecked wooden special inaugural platform on the West Front of the Capitol overlooking the national monuments to take the oath of office as the 44th president of the world’s oldest democracy.

With his left hand raised, he placed his right hand on the burgundy red velvet covered Bible with golden trim that Abraham Lincoln, his idol, used at his first inauguration in 1861, held by wife Michelle in a scintillating golden dress and matching coat to repeat the oath after Chief Justice John Roberts.

“I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, so help me God,” he said.

The flag-waving vast sea of humanity, numbering over two million, an overwhelming number of them blacks, packing the National Mall from the Capitol to the national monument and beyond burst into an applause.

In just 30 seconds, presidential power had passed from George W. Bush to Obama in the most powerful nation on earth.

The ceremony, watched by millions across the world, had as it inaugural theme “A New Birth of Freedom”, a phrase used by Lincoln, the man who saved the American union in the civil war and freed black slaves.

The crowd became silent as Obama began his address, with only an occasional “That’s right” or “Amen” and scattered applause from the multitude of people braving biting cold hanging on to each of his 2,401 words.

Vowing to end the divisiveness and partisanship that was rampant through Washington, he declared: “We come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics.”

Saddleback Church founder Rick Warren delivered the invocation, applauding what he called “a hinge-point in history”.

Legendary soul singer Aretha Franklin sang “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” before Joe Biden was sworn in as vice president to take the baton from Bush’s controversial vice president Dick Cheney.

Obama then escorted Bush to a departure ceremony on the other side of the Capitol, where a helicopter waited to take the former commander-in-chief to his home in Texas.

Following the swearing-in ceremony, Obama was set to sign his cabinet nominations and join invited guests in Statuary Hall in the US Capitol for the Congressional luncheon. The menu draws on historic ties to the Lincoln presidency.

The 56th Inaugural Parade will then make its way down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House, leading a procession of ceremonial military regiments, citizens’ groups, marching bands, and floats.

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