President Obama urged a “common effort” to ensure life liberty and the pursuit of happiness are made real for every American, during his inaugural address in Washington DC on Monday.
“We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names,” he said.
“What makes us exceptional – what makes us American – is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.’”
“Today we continue a never-ending journey, to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time. For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they have never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth.
He added: “The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob."
Stumbling over the words a little, Obama took the oath of office, administered by Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court and watched by a crowd of hundreds of thousands of in the US capital.
Obama is only the 17th president to be sworn in for a second time and is the third two-term president in a row after Bill Clinton and George W Bush.
The president appeared relaxed, chatting to dignitaries including former presidents as he waked out on in front of the US Capitol building.
In the run-up to the ceremony, Obama tweeted: “I'm honored and grateful that we have a chance to finish what we started. Our work begins today. Let's go.”
Obama formally took the oath on Sunday, as by law presidents have to take office on 20 January. However the fact Monday’s event was purely ceremonial did not appear to dampen the sprits of the crowd who cheered wildly and shouted the president’s name as he began his speech.
This year’s inauguration fell on Martin Luther King Day, a public holiday that marks the birthday of the civil rights leader. Obama, the first African-American president, said that through “blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword”, the US learned that “no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free”.
And Obama used his speech to call for Americans to “move forward together” and urged greater equality for women, gay people and immigrants.
“We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few,” he said.
He added: “Let each of us now embrace, with solemn duty and awesome joy, what is our lasting birthright. With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history, and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom.”
ANALYSIS: The Unapologetic President
Obama also used his address to insist his administration would attempt to tackle climate change, arguing that ignoring it would "betray our children and future generations".
"Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms," he said.
In the midst of a national debate about gun laws in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting Obama signalled he intended to try and challenge the status quo.
"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.
"We have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action."
Follow the day's events below:
01/25/2013 1:48 PM EST
The Capitol At Sunset
The U.S. Capitol is shown following the public ceremonial inauguration of U.S. President Barack Obama and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on January 21, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
01/21/2013 9:34 PM EST
Latest News From The Inauguration With Jason Linkins
01/21/2013 9:12 PM EST
First Lady: 'I'm So Proud'
@ FLOTUS :
Just danced to "Let's Stay Together" with the love of my life and the President of the United States. I’m so proud of Barack. –mo
01/21/2013 9:10 PM EST
Wu, Choo Again For FLOTUS
It seems like only yesterday that First Lady Michelle Obama took the stage at the Inaugural Ball in that sparkling white gown and immediately made Jason Wu a household name.
Four years later, at the Obamas' second and final inauguration, Michelle stunned in a long high-neck red Jason Wu gown with velvet details and an armful of sparkly bangles. She wore Jimmy Choo shoes, and a ring by Kimberly McDonald.
Click here to read more and see a photo of FLOTUS's gown.
01/21/2013 8:33 PM EST
Obama, Roberts Inscribed Traveling King Family Bible
Per a White House pool report:
From a WH official: After today's swearing in ceremony at the Capitol this afternoon, at the request of the King family, the President and Chief Justice Roberts inscribed the traveling King family Bible.
01/21/2013 7:24 PM EST
Inaugural Ball Main Floor: Cash Bar And Peanuts
Guests at Monday night's main inaugural ball for President Obama will be well served to eat a hearty dinner beforehand, and bring plenty of cash.
The main ballroom floor of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center was festooned with disco balls and thumping Madonna's "Holiday" as the doors opened to guests at around 6:45 p.m., but the bars and food tables were far from lavish: A cash bar required that customers purchase drink tickets from a separate location, while the food laid out on tables consisted of peanuts and pretzels.
Inauguration officials said in December that this year's festivities would be scaled back -- Obama's first inauguration included 10 balls, a fireworks show and a Bruce Springsteen concert. This time around only two official balls were scheduled, the main ball and the Commander In Chief's Ball, for military personnel and VIPs.
The main ballroom space was the least exclusive of the various events taking place tonight in the convention center -- upper floors contained various receptions for donors, diplomats and administration officials. Still, tickets for the main ball initially sold for $1,000, a lot of money to pay for for pretzels and a cash bar.
The cost of tickets was cut to $500 in recent weeks, leading to speculation that inauguration fundraising was lagging behind expectations.
-- Christina Wilkie
01/21/2013 6:49 PM EST
WATCH: Sasha Yawns During Dad's Inauguration Speech
A .gif of Sasha Obama is becoming quite the viral smash, after the younger First Daughter was caught yawning during her father's inauguration speech.
According to the Atlantic Wire, 11-year-old Sasha's mighty yawn was captured on camera Monday while President Obama was speaking about education policy.
"No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people," the president had said, before pausing for applause.
Click here to read more.
01/21/2013 6:37 PM EST
Crowd Estimates Are In
@ ChadPergram :
DC's security and emergency mgt agency says turnout for #inaug2013 was 800,000 and maybe higher.
01/21/2013 5:51 PM EST
Obamas' Inauguration Kiss Captured By Sasha & Malia On Cell Phones
Most kids get squeamish at the sight of their parents canoodling, but Sasha and Malia Obama love them some good parental PDA.
While watching the Inauguration Day Parade on Monday, the First Daughters got President and Michelle Obama to pose for a quick kiss -- and captured it on their cell phones. First FLOTUS gave her best duck face, then she and POTUS locked lips ever so briefly... then Malia and Sasha examined the results on their small screens and tried out some duck faces of their own.
Click here to read more.
01/21/2013 5:44 PM EST
Sasha And Malia Obama To Hit Teen Milestones
The AP reports:
That's how it goes with kids. You hardly notice how fast they're growing up, then suddenly big sis is nearly as tall as Mom and the little one is a tween, gently sassing Dad.
On the inaugural platform again four years later, a more mature Malia Obama, 14, and Sasha, 11, smiled, sometimes giggled, and chatted with their cousin Avery Robinson as they awaited their father's arrival. Sasha bounced on her feet a bit as if chilly in temperatures hovering around 40 degrees, and later huddled in her seat. Malia, looking poised in calf-high black boots, rivaled her mother's 5 feet 11 inches. Like any girls their age, they whipped out their smartphones in the parade reviewing stand to take photos.
Click here to read more.