Bush Calls on Citizens to Build Nation of Character
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 20, 2001 George W. Bush assumed office as the 43rd President of the United States saying that what Americans do is as important as anything government does.
Bush stressed citizenship in his Inaugural speech. I ask you to be citizens, he said. Citizens, not spectators; citizens, not subjects; responsible citizens -- building communities of service and a nation of character.
President George W. Bush delivers his Inaugural Address following his swearing-in ceremony in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20. Photo by TSgt. Lou Briscese, USAF.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Before Chief Justice William Rehnquist swore in Bush at noon, he also swore in former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney as Vice President. The ceremony took place under cold, drizzly skies. More than 5,000 U.S. service members took part in the Inaugural festivities.
Bush said in his speech that he would build U.S. defenses beyond challenge, lest weakness invite challenge.
He said the United States would confront weapons of mass destruction. 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, he said. 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.
Bush said that he would work to unify the country. While many of our citizens prosper, others doubt the promise, even the justice, of our own country, he said. 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.
Bush kept returning to the theme of American citizens responsibility. America, at its best, is a place where personal responsibility is valued and expected, he said. Encouraging responsibility is not a search for scapegoats, it is a call to conscience. And though it requires sacrifice, it brings a deeper fulfillment.
Bush said Americas public interest depends on private character, civic duty and family bonds and basic fairness, on uncounted, unhonored acts of decency which give direction to our freedom.
He listed the convictions that will guide him in the White House. 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, he said.
Immediately after the ceremony, Bush went to the Presidents Room in the U.S. Capitol and signed his list of nominees for cabinet posts. The Senate met at 3 p.m. and confirmed Donald H. Rumsfeld as the next Defense Secretary.