Obama Again: The Inauguration of the 44th President

Jake Sorensen

On January 21, 2013 Obama was sworn into office for the second time.

In a twist, he laid his hand on not one but two Christian Bibles for his oath: the Lincoln Bible from the Library of Congress, and a bible owned by Martin Luther King Jr., used particularly in his sermons as he travelled the US. While laying one’s hand on a Bible is not required for the Inauguration Ceremony, the majority of presidents (with Roosevelt and John Quincy Adams as notable exceptions) have acted to continue this tradition.  Obama was the first to double it. Regardless of this unique opening, the ceremony continued without any other major changes in the formula.

The opening of his speech didn’t seem to stray too far from what has been said at previous inaugurations. Like many others, he began to speak of America’s precepts, and how its people should strive to hold them since, “What makes us exceptional- what makes us American- is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a declaration made more than centuries ago.”  He further emphasized this by saying “…that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth”. Like many presidents before him, Obama stressed the need for America’s people to continue the fight for freedom.

Later in his speech, he referenced issues related to his previous and upcoming terms. He mentioned his new policies in his statement, “Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play”.  He also suggested “…that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles require new responses to new challenges.”  On education, he noted, “No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future…”

With these phrases, Obama indicated that the American people must work together, with both each other and their leaders, to improve this country for its future citizens.  Near the end of the speech, he highlighted the importance of Americans treating each other as Americans regardless of differences. “For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. 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.”

According to CBS, there were an estimated million people at this year’s ceremony, twice the number predicted by local officials. However, this was around 800,000 less people than Obama’s first inauguration.

One blog entry on Huffington Post, a news site notably preferred by the president himself, noted the revolutionary aspects of his speech, claiming it to have “…announced the new terms of the 21st century political discourse.” (Timothy P. Shriver, 1/25/13)   All in all, it appears that Obama is attempting to pick up momentum again after last year’s seemingly endless election season.