‘America’s Possibilities Are Limitless,’ Obama Says On Day Of Pageantry
WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) – It was a day of grand festivity Monday for President Barack Obama, beginning with an assertion that “America’s possibilities are limitless” in an inaugural address, and concluding in style with two inaugural balls.
As CBS 2’s Dick Brennan reported, wearing a dazzling red dress, First Lady Michelle Obama joined the President Monday night, as they slow-danced into their second term.
Before the dance at the Commander-in-Chief Ball, Obama appeared spoke to several troops in Afghanistan by teleconference. The crowd at the ball cheered the troops overseas. Obama told them the biggest cheer he got during his inaugural speech to the crowd on the National Mall was when he spoke about _ quote _ “the extraordinary men and women in uniform” who are keeping the country strong.
He told them they should know that “you will be on our minds tonight and every single night until our mission in Afghanistan is completed.” He promised them they would get the equipment and support they need.
Obama also professed his love for his wife.
“I’ve got a date with me here,” he said. “She inspires me every day. She makes me a better man and a better president. The fact that she is so devoted to taking care of our troops and our military families is just one more sign of her extraordinary love and grace and strength. I’m just lucky to have her.”
Afterward, the President and First Lady had their first dance to “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green, performed by Jennifer Hudson — a song Obama himself famously sang at a fundraiser at the Apollo Theater in Harlem last year.
Alicia Keys also performed.
Inaugural Address: ‘Our Journey Is Not Complete’
Earlier Monday, asserting that “America’s possibilities are limitless,” President Obama declared that a decade of war is ending and the nation’s economy is recovering as he launched into a second term before a flag-waving crowd of hundreds of thousands on the National Mall.
“My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it, so long as we seize it together,” Obama said, moments after taking the oath of office on a crisp day in the nation’s capital.
The president didn’t dwell on any first-term accomplishments but looked to hard work ahead in a country still grappling with a sluggish economy.
“We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit,” he said. But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.”
Hundreds of thousands of people fanned out across the Mall and millions more watched on television, as Obama took the oath of office to begin his second term.
Standing in front of the flag-bedecked Capitol, he implored Washington to find common ground over his next four years. And seeking to build on the public support that catapulted him to the White House twice, the president said the public has “the obligation to shape the debates of our time.”
“Not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals,” Obama said.
He emphasized that his work is not done, and that his goal is increased prosperity for all.
“Our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well, and a growing many can barely make it,” he said.
Obama also let his Republican critics know that he is committed to social entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security, and that cutting them is not an acceptable method of shrinking government spending.
“We reject the belief that America must choose between carting for the generation that built this country, and investing in the generation that will build its future,” he said.
Gay rights were also a major theme of Obama, who came out in favor of full same-sex marriage equality during his first term.
“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,” Obama said.
Civil rights in general were a major theme of the speech, in commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. In emphasizing civil rights, Obama emphasized three critical events – the Seneca Falls women’s rights convention of 1848, the march on Selma, Ala., for civil rights for African-Americans in 1965, and the Stonewall riots for gay rights in Greenwich Village in 1969.
Looking ahead to his second-term agenda, the president said the nation must “respond to the threat of climate change” and tackle the comprehensive immigration reform that has eluded Washington for years.
“Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity,” he said.
Obama has laid out an ambitious agenda for his second term – with immigration reform, rejuvenation of the economy, and a demand for a historic gun control measure in the wake of the massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
“Our journey is not complete until all our children – from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown – know that they are cared for and cherished, and always safe from harm,” he said.
Obama will also have his hands full internationally, from Iran’s march to get the bomb to peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, and the new terrorist violence in Africa.
Obama said America will try to resolve her differences with other nations peacefully.
And CBS 2’s Dick Brennan reported on this day of pageantry, there was also a poignant moment. As Obama left the inaugural stage, he stopped, turned and faced the crowd on the mall.
“I want to take a look one more time,” he said. “I’ll never see this again.”
Moments earlier, Obama placed his hand on two Bibles – one used by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the other used by Abraham Lincoln – and recited the brief oath of office.
Michelle Obama held the Bibles, one on top of the other, as daughters Malia and Sasha looked on.
Vice President Joe Biden was also sworn in for his second term as the nation’s second in command.
It was a ceremony of patriotism, with James Taylor singing “America the Beautiful,” Kelly Clarkson singing “My Country ’Tis of Thee,” and Beyonce singing the National Anthem.
A 21-gun salute followed the oath, which some say symbolizes the hallmark of American democracy – the peaceful transfer of power.
“We do this in a peaceful, orderly way,” said U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) “There is no mob, no coup, no insurrection.”
The fanfare extended across the nation’s capital, including the traditional inaugural parade in the afternoon, and a pair of glitzy formal balls in the evening.
In some ways, CBS 2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, Obama’s brief 18-minute inaugural speech lacked the excitement and enthusiasm of four years ago, when he was sworn in as the nation’s first African-American president and 1.8 million people came to see it.
Still, organizers expected up to 700,000 attended Monday’s events, which would make it the largest second-term inaugural in history.
The president was officially sworn-in shortly before noon on Sunday, in keeping with the Constitution’s mandate that presidents begin their new term on Jan. 20.
But because inaugural ceremonies are historically not held on Sundays, the public celebration was pushed to Monday, coinciding with the birthday of late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
Among those who performed in the inauguration ceremony was the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir as well as the fifth grade chorus from P.S. 22 on Staten Island led by director Gregg Breinberg.
They sang four songs, including “God Bless The USA” and “On Top Of The World.”
Obama then attended the traditional luncheon with lawmakers, where guests were served drinking water from Saratoga Springs and wine from Long Island and the Finger Lakes region as well as apples from the Hudson Valley and cheese from Cooperstown.
The President and Vice President then watched a small parade of troops march past them on the steps of the Capitol before being driven away most of the way to their reviewing stand near the White House for the full parade of marching bands and floats.
The weather was chilly and overcast and about 40 degrees, but that didn’t stop President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama from marching down Pennsylvania Avenue.
Members of the U.S. Armed Forces and dozens of bands and floats – including those from Obama’s home state of Hawaii – were in the line of the march.
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