President Obama, today:
Vice President Biden, Mr. Chief Justice, Members of the United States Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created
equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable
rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of
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. 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. They gave to us a Republic, a government of, and by, and
for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding
For more than two hundred years, we have.
Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that
no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could
survive half-slave and half-free. We made ourselves anew, and vowed to
move forward together.
Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and
highways to speed travel and commerce; schools and colleges to train our
Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play.
Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the
vulnerable, and protect its people from life's worst hazards and
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,
are constants in our character.
But we have always understood that when times change, so must we;
that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new
challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires
collective action. For the American people can no more meet the demands
of today's world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met
the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias. No single
person can train all the math and science teachers we'll need to equip
our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and
research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores.
Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation,
and one people.