This is the second presidential inauguration that Perry attended. The first time, he was there to witness President George W. Bush being sworn-in for a second term. Perry was one of about 1 million hearty souls who braved the arctic temperatures that descended upon the northeast at the beginning of the week.
“I congratulate President Barack Obama as he is sworn-in to begin his second term as President of the United States,” Perry said. “If there were a mandate in last November’s election, it was for elected officials to work together in the best interest of our country.”
Perry said that the nation is faced with many critical and challenging issues. Among them, he listed the economy, government spending, the on-going conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq and tackling the difficult question of gun violence in the nation.
“The President has an historic opportunity this year to lead us forward by confronting our debt problem through spending and tax reform,” Perry said. “Doing so will grow our economy, create jobs and reaffirm our commitment to future generations of Americans. I stand ready to work with the president and my colleagues on these critical goals.”
In his inaugural address, President Obama said the inauguration is a symbolic reminder of the “enduring strength of our Constitution. We affirm the promise of our democracy. 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. What makes us exceptional – what makes us American – is our allegiance to an idea articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago.”
Quoting the Preamble to the Constitution, Obama said the day marked the continuation of a never-ending journey to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of the time. While these truths may be self-evident, history has taught the nation that these truths have never been self-executing.
“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,” Obama said. “They gave to us a republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.”
Through times of blood, strife and conflict, the principles of liberty and equality were tested and endured, he said. Throughout history, the country's leaders have learned lessons about the free market, about fair play, about the need for infrastructure, for education for economic and cultural growth.
“Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune,” Obama said. “Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone. Our celebration of initiative and enterprise, our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, these are constants in our character.”
A theme repeated and lesson retaught to each generation has been that when times change, so must the nation. Remaining faithful to the founding principles and preserving individual freedoms require collective action. More than ever, he said, times demand that the nation stand as one.
“This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience,” Obama said. “ A decade of war is now ending. An economic recovery has begun. America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention. My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it -- so long as we seize it together.”
To prosper, the middle class must also flourish, Obama said. Obsolete programs are inadequate to meet the challenges of the day. To succeed there government must be remade; the tax code revamped; the school system reformed; and the citizens empowered to work harder, learn more and reach higher.
“We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity,” Obama said. “We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit. 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. For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn.”
Freedom is not reserved for the luck or happiness reserved for a few, Obama said. The world is unpredictable and can present harsh challenges to any one at any time, in the form of unemployment, sudden illness or by the hand of nature's violence.
“It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began,” Obama said. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. 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. Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote. 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 until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. 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.”
In closing, Obama emphasized the need for each and every American to set the country's course into the future. It is the citizens who will frame future debates.
“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” Obama said. “Thank you. God bless you, and may He forever bless these United States of America.”