President Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, called on his countrymen to begin a new chapter in the US. “Starting today we must pick ourselves up dust ourselves off and begin again the work of remaking America,” he said.
In a deeply religious ceremony, Obama indicated to the world that America is ready to lead with new resolve.
“And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.”
He indicated that the country would need to dig deep to face economic and social challenges, and acknowledged the significance of being the first black American President.
“To the nation’s foes and terrorists,” he said, “We will not apologise for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defence, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.”
The ceremony included prayers, blessings, poetry, cannon salutes and Aretha Franklin.
Watching on were Vice President Biden, former Presidents Bush and Clinton, and Hillary Clinton, the Administration’s new Secretary of State.
In freezing temperatures between 1.5 – 2m people watched on from Washington Mall.
The event was covered live by four Free to Air Australian television networks.