Photo by Douglas Mills
G.W. Bush Sworn in as 43rd President of the
The Official Ceremony occurred January 20, 2001: At 12:01 and 30 seconds on January 20th,
just like the Constitution says, George W. Bush put his hand on a very old Bible,
and repeated after U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Rehnquist. So help him God.
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the
Office of President of the United States, and will to the
best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." (Ad Libbed: "So help me God.")
Vice Presidential Oath
"I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution
of the United States against all enemies, foreign and
domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same: that I take this obligation freely, without any mental
reservation or purpose of evasion, and I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter.
So help me God."
(Note: Cheney was sworn in first; Bush was sworn in last)
And then President gave a great inaugural address — brief,
elegant, generous, even inspiring!
His speech is broadcast all over the web, so it's public domain:
INAUGURAL ADDRESS OF PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH
President Clinton, distinguished guests and my fellow
citizens, the peaceful transfer of authority
is rare in history, yet common in our country. With a simple oath, we affirm old traditions and make
As I begin, I thank President Clinton for his service to our nation.
And I thank Vice President Gore for a contest conducted with spirit and ended with grace.
I am honored and humbled to stand here, where so many of
America's leaders have come before me,
and so many will follow.
We have a place, all of us, in a long story--a story we
continue, but whose end we will not see.
It is the story of a new world that became a friend and liberator of the old, a story of a slave-holding
society that became a servant of freedom, the story of a power that went into the world to protect
but not possess, to defend but not to conquer.
It is the American story--a story of flawed and fallible
people, united across the generations by
grand and enduring ideals.
The grandest of these ideals is an unfolding American
promise that everyone belongs, that
everyone deserves a chance, that no insignificant person was ever born.
Americans are called to enact this promise in our lives and
in our laws. And though our nation
has sometimes halted, and sometimes delayed, we must follow no other course.
Through much of the last century, America's faith in
freedom and democracy was a rock in
a raging sea. Now it is a seed upon the wind, taking root in many nations.
Our democratic faith is more than the creed of our country,
it is the inborn hope of our humanity,
an ideal we carry but do not own, a trust we bear and pass along. And even after nearly 225 years,
we have a long way yet to travel.
While many of our citizens prosper, others doubt the
promise, even the justice, of our own country.
The ambitions of some Americans are limited by failing schools and hidden prejudice and the
circumstances of their birth. And sometimes our differences run so deep, it seems we share a
continent, but not a country.
We do not accept this, and we will not allow it. Our unity,
our union, is the serious work of leaders
and citizens in every generation. And this is my solemn pledge: I will work to build a single nation
of justice and opportunity.
I know this is in our reach because we are guided by a
power larger than ourselves who creates us
equal in His image.
And we are confident in principles that unite and lead us onward.
America has never been united by blood or birth or soil. We
are bound by ideals that move us
beyond our backgrounds, lift us above our interests and teach us what it means to be citizens.
Every child must be taught these principles. Every citizen must uphold them. And every immigrant,
by embracing these ideals, makes our country more, not less, American.
Today, we affirm a new commitment to live out our nation's
promise through civility, courage,
compassion and character.
America, at its best, matches a commitment to principle
with a concern for civility. A civil society
demands from each of us good will and respect, fair dealing and forgiveness.
Some seem to believe that our politics can afford to be
petty because, in a time of peace, the
stakes of our debates appear small.
But the stakes for America are never small. If our country
does not lead the cause of freedom,
it will not be led. If we do not turn the hearts of children toward knowledge and character, we will
lose their gifts and undermine their idealism. If we permit our economy to drift and decline, the
vulnerable will suffer most.
We must live up to the calling we share. Civility is not a
tactic or a sentiment. It is the determined
choice of trust over cynicism, of community over chaos. And this commitment, if we keep it, is a
way to shared accomplishment.
America, at its best, is also courageous.
Our national courage has been clear in times of depression
and war, when defending common dangers
defined our common good. Now we must choose if the example of our fathers and mothers will inspire
us or condemn us. We must show courage in a time of blessing by confronting problems instead of
passing them on to future generations.
Together, we will reclaim America's schools, before ignorance and apathy claim more young lives.
We will reform Social Security and Medicare, sparing our
children from struggles we have the power
to prevent. And we will reduce taxes, to recover the momentum of our economy and reward the
effort and enterprise of working Americans.
We will build our defenses beyond challenge, lest weakness invite challenge.
We will confront weapons of mass destruction, so that a new century is spared new horrors.
The enemies of liberty and our country should make no
mistake: America remains engaged in the
world by history and by choice, shaping a balance of power that favors freedom. We will defend
our allies and our interests. We will show purpose without arrogance. We will meet aggression and
bad faith with resolve and strength. And to all nations, we will speak for the values that gave our nation birth.
America, at its best, is compassionate. In the quiet of
American conscience, we know that deep,
persistent poverty is unworthy of our nation's promise.
And whatever our views of its cause, we can agree that
children at risk are not at fault.
Abandonment and abuse are not acts of God, they are failures of love.
And the proliferation of prisons, however necessary, is no substitute for hope and order in our souls.
Where there is suffering, there is duty. Americans in need
are not strangers, they are citizens,
not problems, but priorities. And all of us are diminished when any are hopeless.
Government has great responsibilities for public safety and
public health, for civil rights and
common schools. Yet compassion is the work of a nation, not just a government.
And some needs and hurts are so deep they will only respond
to a mentor's touch or a pastor's prayer.
Church and charity, synagogue and mosque lend our communities their humanity, and they will have an
honored place in our plans and in our laws.
Many in our country do not know the pain of poverty, but we can listen to those who do.
And I can pledge our nation to a goal: When we see that
wounded traveler on the road to Jericho, we
will not pass to the other side.
America, at its best, is a place where personal responsibility is valued and expected.
Encouraging responsibility is not a search for scapegoats,
it is a call to conscience. And though it requires
sacrifice, it brings a deeper fulfillment. We find the fullness of life not only in options, but in commitments.
And we find that children and community are the commitments that set us free.
Our public interest depends on private character, on civic
duty and family bonds and basic fairness, on
uncounted, unhonored acts of decency which give direction to our freedom.
Sometimes in life we are called to do great things. But as
a saint of our times has said, every day
we are called to do small things with great love. The most important tasks of a democracy
are done by everyone.
I will live and lead by these principles: to advance my
convictions with civility, to pursue the public
interest with courage, to speak for greater justice and compassion, to call for responsibility and try
to live it as well.
In all these ways, I will bring the values of our history to the care of our times.
What you do is as important as anything government does. I
ask you to seek a common good
beyond your comfort; to defend needed reforms against easy attacks; to serve your nation,
beginning with your neighbor. I ask you to be citizens: citizens, not spectators; citizens, not
subjects; responsible citizens, building communities of service and a nation of character.
Americans are generous and strong and decent, not because
we believe in ourselves, but because
we hold beliefs beyond ourselves. When this spirit of citizenship is missing, no government program
can replace it. When this spirit is present, no wrong can stand against it.
After the Declaration of Independence was signed, Virginia
statesman John Page wrote to Thomas
Jefferson: "We know the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong. Do you not think an angel
rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm?"
Much time has passed since Jefferson arrived for his
inauguration. The years and changes accumulate.
But the themes of this day he would know: our nation's grand story of courage and its simple dream of dignity.
We are not this story's author, who fills time and eternity
with his purpose. Yet his purpose is achieved
in our duty, and our duty is fulfilled in service to one another.
Never tiring, never yielding, never finishing, we renew
that purpose today, to make our country more
just and generous, to affirm the dignity of our lives and every life.
This work continues. This story goes on. And an angel still rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm.
God bless you all, and God bless America.