Inaugural Address, Barack Obama, 2009
My fellow citizens:
I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful
for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices
borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his
service to our nation, as well as the generosity and
cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.
Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential
oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of
prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so
often, the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and
raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on
not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high
office, but because We the People have remained faithful
to the ideals of our forebearers, and true to our founding
documents. So it has been. So it must be with this
generation of Americans.
That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood.
Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of
violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a
consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of
some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices
and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been
lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is
too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings
further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen
our adversaries and threaten our planet. These are the
indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less
measurable but no less profound is a sapping of
confidence across our land -- a nagging fear that
America's decline is inevitable, and that the next
generation must lower its sights…
We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture,
the time has come to set aside childish things. The time
has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our
better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that
noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the
God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all
deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of
happiness. In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we
understand that greatness is never a given. It must be
earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or
settling for less. It has not been the path for the
fainthearted -- for those who prefer leisure over work, or
seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has
been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things –
some celebrated, but more often men and women
obscure in their labor -- who have carried us up the long,
rugged path toward prosperity and freedom.
For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and
traveled across oceans in search of a new life. For us,
they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured
the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth. For us,
they fought and died, in places like Concord and
Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn. Time and again,
these men and women struggled and sacrificed and
worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a
better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of
our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of
birth or wealth or faction.
This is the journey we continue today. We remain the
most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers
are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our
minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no
less needed than they were last week or last month or last
year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of
standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off
unpleasant decisions -- that time has surely passed.
Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves
off, and begin again the work of remaking America.
So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are
and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's
birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots
huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river.
The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing.
The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the
outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of
our nation ordered these words be read to the people:
"Let it be told to the future world ... that in the depth of
winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...
that the city and the country, alarmed at one common
danger, came forth to meet [it]."
America. In the face of our common dangers, in this
winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless
words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the
icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be
said by our children's children that when we were tested,
we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn
back, nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon
and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of
freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.
Obama, Barack. "Inaugural Address." 2009 Presidential Inauguration of Barack Obama. United States Capitol, Washington, D.C. 20 Jan. 2009. Whitehouse.gov. Web. 25 Apr. 2016.
The rhetorical effect of the sentences “The capital…was advancing” (line 74) is