By BosNewsLife Chief International Correspondents Stefan J. Bos and George Whitten
WASHINGTON D.C., USA (BosNewsLife) — Barack Hussein Obama became the country’s first ever African-American president Tuesday, January 20, at an inauguration in the nation’s capital attended by as many two million people.
“…I Barack Hussein Obama do solemnly swear,” he said, standing before the U.S. Capitol, ending with “… so help me God!”
Soon after, Obama, 47, now the United States’ 44th president, stressed the need for “a new era of responsibility” in his eighteen minute inauguration address, saying the country was in crisis and that action was urgently needed.
“I am grateful on the trust you bestowed. I thank President Bush for the service to his nation,” he said. However he quickly spoke of the challenges left behind by the Bush administration, warning the country was “in the midst of crisis”, at war and facing economic difficulties as well as concerns over its energy future.
Yet, Obama also spoke of the hope he has for a different America. “No less profound is a fear that America’s decline is inevitable. The challenges we face are serious.” But, he said, “We have chosen hope over fear.” He added that God had given Americans a promise of freedom and the right to pursue happiness.
“We can meet those new threats,” he said, drawing applause from a huge crowd that filled the National Mall, a vast open area surrounded by war memorials, museums and other monuments, on this cold January day.
Speaking on the Iraq war that came to divine the Bush administration, he pledged that “We will responsible give Iraq to its people,” and work with allies in Afghanistan. Obama also warned potential terrorists and their leaders. “We will defeat you.”
He said because America had emerged of civil war and segregation, it knew humanity. ““To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West – know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy,” Obama said. “To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist, ” he added, choosing words in a scripted, well-timed, rhythm
Just before he was to be sworn in, Pastor Rick Warren prayed for the president and his wife and daughters. “We today rejoice not only in America the peaceful transfer of power for the 44th time, but also a hinge point in history,” he said.
“We know today that Dr [Martin Luther] King along with a great cloud of witnesses is shouting in heaven,” of joy, he said about the famous black rights activist, who lead crowds near the same place where Obama was inaugurated, but who was eventually assassinated.
Soon after, Joe Baden was sworn in as vice-president, before Barack Obama became president. Warren ended his prayer in the name of the person, he said, changed his life, Jesus.
Church leaders were closely watching the proceedings. Earlier on Tuesday, January 20, Obama attended a service held with roughly 200 invited guests with Bishop T.D. Jakes, the head pastor of The Potter’s House, a 30,000 member church in Dallas, Texas.
Jakes spoke of four lessons for his administration. “In time of crisis, good men must stand up,” Jakes said. “God always sends the best men into the worst times.”
However the bishop also made clear that “This is not a time for politeness or correctness; this is a time for people to confront issues and bring about change…You cannot enjoy the light without enduring the heat.”
Obama took over a presidency amid the worst economic downturn in decades, with questions whether his estimated one trillion dollars in rescue proposals will help, the Middle East in turmoil, and an ongoing battle against terrorism.
Jakes turned, looked at Obama and said, “The problems are mighty and the solutions are not simple, and everywhere you turn there will be a critic waiting to attack every decision you make. But you are all fired up, sir, and you are ready to go. And this nations goes with you. God goes with you.”
George W. Bush meanwhile left the stage, no longer president, of the world’s last remaining superpower. He shook the hand of his successor, walked to a waiting helicopter, and waved farewell to Washington and the 44th President of the United States. Bush left office Tuesday, January 20, with one of the lowest public approval ratings of any departing U.S. president. However he has said that history will judge him differently.