Bush Begins Second Term Vowing to Protect Nation
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 20, 2005 His No. 1 duty as president is "to protect this nation and its people against further attacks and emerging threats," and the best way to do so is to help expand freedom and democracy worldwide, President Bush said during his second inaugural address here today.
Following his swearing-in by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist on the west front of the nation's Capitol, the president said he is "mindful of the consequential times in which we live" and determined to fulfill the commitment to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.
The president, who took his stand at the podium amid cheers, whistles and applause, acknowledged that this oath is particularly poignant in light of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 "a day of fire."
"We have seen our vulnerability, and we have seen its deepest source," he said. "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."
The surest path to peace, he said, is to expand the reach of the principles the United States was founded on. "The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty and other lands," he said. "The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world."
Bush promised people in the world living under oppression that the United States recognizes their plight and will stand by them as they pursue liberty, and urged their oppressors to reverse course.
Spreading liberty around the world "is not primarily the task of arms," Bush said, but he left no doubt that "the United States will defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary."
Bush acknowledged that the United States "has accepted obligations that are difficult to fulfill, and would be dishonorable to abandon." Actions already undertaken by the United States and its military have helped "tens of millions" secure their freedom, and millions more will find it "as hope kindles hope," he said.
Paving the way for those successes has demanded a heavy load on many citizens, including the men and women in uniform, the president said. "A few Americans have accepted the hardest duties in this cause," Bush said, "in the quiet work of intelligence and diplomacy, the idealistic work of helping raise up free governments, the dangerous and necessary work of fighting our enemies."
Some, he acknowledged, have made the ultimate sacrifice in this pursuit. "We will always honor their names and their sacrifice," Bush said.
Both the invocation before the swearing-in and the benediction that followed included tributes to America's fallen troops and prayers for the well-being of the nation's troops in harm's way.
The president called on all Americans, particularly the nation's young people, to recognize the idealism being demonstrated by America's military members and others working to help secure liberty and freedom, and urged them to strive to live up to it.
"You have seen duty and allegiance in the determined faces of our soldiers," he said. "You have seen that life is fragile and evil is real and courage triumphs. Make the choice to serve in a cause larger than your wants, larger than yourself -- and in your days you will add not just to the wealth of our country, but to its character."
America needs idealism, courage and unity as it faces the "unfinished work of American freedom," the president said.
"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," he said. "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."
An inaugural parade along Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House followed the swearing-in ceremony and inaugural address. Later today, the president is expected to attend nine inaugural balls, including one for servicemembers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.