Obama calls for a “new declaration of independence”

January 18th, 2009 - 10:59 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Jan 18 (IANS) President-elect Barack Obama set the tone for his historic presidency with a call to Americans to take up anew the principles of the nation’s founders with “a new declaration of independence.”"Only a handful of times in our history has a generation been confronted with challenges so vast,” Obama said Saturday on a pre-inaugural train journey from Philadelphia from where the American fight for independence began in 1776 to the nation’s capital.

“While our problems may be new, what is required to overcome them is not,” Obama said kicking off three days of celebration of his inauguration as the first African-American president of the United States. “What is required is the same perseverance and idealism that our founders displayed.”

“Such enormous challenges will not be solved quickly. There will be false starts and setbacks, frustrations and disappointments,” he said at later stops in Wilmington, Delaware, and Baltimore, Maryland.

“We will be called to show patience even as we act with fierce urgency,” he said stressing that it will take time and sacrifice to turn the economy around.

“America faces its own crossroads - a nation at war, an economy in turmoil, an American Dream that feels like its slipping away,” Obama said.

At each stop of the train journey, Obama emphasised the need to band together to tackle America’s problems and rise above “ideology, small thinking, prejudice and bigotry.”

“The trials we face are very different now, but they are severe in their own right,” Obama told thousands assembled outside Baltimore’s City Hall, in the final layover of his train trip.

“What is required is a new declaration of independence, not just in our nation, but in our own lives - from ideology and small thinking, prejudice and bigotry - an appeal not to our easy instincts but to our better angels.”

Earlier, in a town hall-style opening rally at Philadelphia’s 30th Street train station, Obama declared: “We are here to mark the beginning of our journey to Washington, and this is fitting, because it was here in this city that our American journey began.

“We are here today not simply to pay tribute to our first patriots but to take up the work that they began,” Obama said in Philadelphia.

In an inspirational address Obama evoked not only the fathers of American independence, but also Abraham Lincoln, who ended the slavery of blacks and saved the American union by winning a civil war - a model he would invoke all day.

“Starting now, let’s take up in our own lives the work of perfecting our union,” Obama said. “Let’s build a government that is responsible to the people and accept our own responsibilities as citizens to hold our government accountable.”

“Let’s all of us do our part to rebuild this country,” he said, words that clearly point to the theme that will emerge from his inauguration Tuesday. “Let’s make sure this election is not the end of what we do to change America, but the beginning.”

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