TOPICS > Politics

President Bush Takes Second Oath of Office

January 20, 2005 at 12:00 AM EDT


KWAME HOLMAN: It was shortly before 11:00 this morning when President Bush and his family left the White House for the brief journey down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol.

The motorcade’s route took the president through the federal sector of the city, an area of some 100 square blocks in total lockdown. Thousands of police, federal agents and armed troops were on guard at the first inauguration since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Spectators lined the route in near-freezing temperatures, many wishing the president well, others present only in protest. At the west front of the Capitol three past presidents were introduced with fanfare: Bill Clinton and his wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton.

SPOKESPERSON: The 42nd president of the United States.

KWAME HOLMAN: Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalyn.

SPOKESPERSON: The 39th president of the United States.

SPOKESPERSON: What a nice welcome.

KATHLEEN HALL JAMIESON: And George H.W. Bush, the president’s father, and his wife Barbara accompanied their granddaughters, Jenna and Barbara, and the first lady’s mother, Jenna Welch. Following them, Vice President Dick Cheney’s wife, Lynne. Then the first lady, Laura Bush. The vice president. And finally, the 43rd president.

Mr. Cheney was first to swear his oath of office, administered by Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert.

DICK CHENEY: I Richard Cheney do solemnly swear…

KWAME HOLMAN: And then Mr. Bush, placing his left hand on his family’s edition of the bible, was sworn in by the ailing Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, William Rehnquist.

CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAM REHNQUIST: Will you raise your right hand. Hand, Mr. President, and repeat after me. I, George Walker Bush…



PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Do solemnly swear…

CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAM REHNQUIST: That I will faithfully execute…

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: That I will faithfully execute…

CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAM REHNQUIST: The office of president of the United States.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: The office of president of the United States.

KWAME HOLMAN: After the cannonade, Mr. Bush addressed the nation, and the wider world.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: At this second gathering, our duties are defined not by the words I use, but by the history we have seen together. For a half a century, America defended our own freedom by standing watch on distant borders.

After the shipwreck of communism came years of relative quiet, years of repose, years of sabbatical. And then there came a day of fire.

We have seen our vulnerability, and we have seen its deepest source. For as long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny, prone to ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder, violence will gather and multiply in destructive power and cross the most defended borders and raise a mortal threat.

There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment and expose the pretensions of tyrants and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom.

We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.

America’s vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one. So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.

This is not primarily the task of arms, though we will defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary. Freedom, by its nature, must be chosen and defended by citizens and sustained by the rule of law and the protection of minorities.

And when the soul of a nation finally speaks, the institutions that arise may reflect customs and traditions very different from our own. America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling.

Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, attain their own freedom and make their own way. We will encourage reform in other governments by making clear that success in our relations will require the decent treatment of their own people.

Some, I know, have questioned the global appeal of liberty, though this time in history, four decades defined by the swiftest advance of freedom ever seen, is an odd time for doubt. Americans, of all people, should never be surprised by the power of our ideals.

Eventually the call of freedom comes to every mind and every soul. We do not accept the existence of permanent tyranny because we do not accept the possibility of permanent slavery. Liberty will come to those who love it.

Today, America speaks anew to the peoples of the world. All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: The United States will not ignore your oppression or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.

Democratic reformers facing repression, prison, or exile can know: America sees you for who you are — the future leaders of your free country. The leaders of governments with long habits of control need to know: To serve your people you must learn to trust them.

Start on this journey of progress and justice, and America will walk at your side. And all the allies of the United States can know: We honor your friendship, we rely on your counsel and we depend on your help.

Division among free nations is a primary goal of freedom’s enemies. The concerted effort of free nations to promote democracy is a prelude to our enemies’ defeat.

Today, I also speak anew to my fellow citizens. From all of you, I have asked patience in the hard task of securing America, which you have granted in good measure. Our country has accepted obligations that are difficult to fulfill and would be dishonorable to abandon.

Yet because we have acted in the great liberating tradition of this nation, tens of millions have achieved their freedom. And as hope kindles hope, millions more will find it.

By our efforts, we have lit a fire as well– a fire in the minds of men. It warms those who feel its power, it burns those who fight its progress and one day this untamed fire of freedom will reach the darkest corners of our world.

America has need of idealism and courage because we have essential work at home — the unfinished work of American freedom. In a world moving toward liberty, we are determined to show the meaning and promise of liberty.

In America’s ideal of freedom, citizens find the dignity and security of economic independence instead of laboring on the edge of subsistence. This is the broader definition of liberty that motivated the Homestead Act, the Social Security Act, and the G.I. Bill of Rights.

And now we will extend this vision by reforming great institutions to serve the needs of our time. To give every American a stake in the promise and future of our country, we will bring the highest standards to our schools and build an ownership society.

We will widen the ownership of homes and businesses, retirement savings and health insurance, preparing our people for the challenges of life in a free society. By making every citizen an agent of his or her own destiny, we will give our fellow Americans greater freedom from want and fear and make our society more prosperous and just and equal.

We have known divisions which must be healed to move forward in great purposes, and I will strive in good faith to heal them. Yet those divisions do not define America. We felt the unity and fellowship of our nation when freedom came under attack and our response came like a single hand over a single heart.

And we can feel that same unity and pride whenever America acts for good, and the victims of disaster are given hope and the unjust encounter justice and the captives are set free.

We go forward with complete confidence in the eventual triumph of freedom. Not because history runs on the wheels of inevitability; it is human choices that move events. Not because we consider ourselves a chosen nation; God moves and chooses as he wills.

We have confidence because freedom is the permanent hope of mankind, the hunger in dark places, the longing of the soul. America, in this young century, proclaims liberty throughout all the world and to all the inhabitants thereof.

Renewed in our strength, tested but not weary, we are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom. May God bless you, and may He watch over the United States of America.