President Barack Obama’s second inaugural speech on Monday, January 21, 2013, was filled with inspirational, political, civil and human rights, and motivational quotes. So many quotes to choose from, so little time!
See video of President Obama’s speech below, at the end of this article.
Reference to Declaration of Independence
Just like Martin Luther King, Jr. in his “I Have a Dream” speech, President Obama quoted from the Declaration of Independence.
Elaborating on the opening quote, the president explained,
“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.”
Remember, the government is not the end-all answer
Obama reminds us, praises us in not losing focus where government is concerned. He 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.”
This is my personal #1 favorite quote because over the past decade, and especially the past four years, politics has become very polarized like never in history: very divisive, and also very blame-oriented and even spiteful.
Kudos to the 99% movement?
President Obama mentioned the oppressed, the downtrodden, and the unequal in modern terms. Specifically, he said,
“For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.”
Obama talked about the vulnerable, but also the hard-working. He put equality and civil rights issues in a modern perspective, woven all throughout his speech.
Theme of unity pervades Obama’s 2nd inaugural speech
While Obama, like Martin Luther King, Jr., used several anaphoras (an anaphora is a rhetorical device that involves the repetition of a word or sequence of words repeating at the beginning of sentences), Obama’s theme of “together,” and “we, the people” was accentuated by the message of unity all throughout his speech:
“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.”
And, again, he quotes Martin Luther King, Jr. directly in his speech, making the most concrete and powerful statement illustrating unity:
“…our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.”
Mention of gay Americans is historical for a presidential inaugural speech
Most compelling of all, most endearing and most bold of all was President Obama’s quote calling for the equality of gay Americans (as well as women and immigrants). He didn’t just say one sentence that they should be treated equally under the law, but continued on to say:
“…for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”
That is a powerful quote, coming from such a loving man himself. You can see the love that exudes from his eyes, from his face, his whole body even when he looks at his wife and interacts with her in public. You can see how he loves his daughters.
By President Obama’s speech yesterday, you could see and hear and feel how he loves his country. The sincerity and authenticity of his speech will ring through history as it is now ringing through the world, inspiring all to freedom and unity.