Complete Inaugural Coverage
President-elect Barack Obama is currently on a train on his way from Philadelphia to Washington, but he has another message for America today as well.
In a radio address recorded earlier but released today by the transition, Mr. Obama talks about the importance of the inauguration and the peaceful transition of power throughout American history.
"Inaugurations have taken place during times of war and peace; in Depression and prosperity. Our democracy has undergone many changes, and our people have taken many steps in pursuit of a more perfect union," Mr. Obama said. "What has always endured is this peaceful and orderly transition of power."
Mr. Obama also takes time in the address to praise the Bush administration for their role in the transition.
"Transitions also remind us that what we hold in common as Americans far outweighs our political differences," he said. "Throughout the current transition, President Bush and his Administration have extended the hand of cooperation, and provided invaluable assistance to my team as we prepare to hit the ground running on January 20th."
Mr. Obama also calls the Inauguration events of next several days a "celebration of the American people." But he also notes the domestic and international challenges ahead as he takes office, calling this "a time of great challenge for the American people."
"Difficult days are upon us, and even more difficult days lie ahead," Mr. Obama added. "Our nation is at war. Our economy is in great turmoil. And there is so much work that must be done to restore peace and advance prosperity. But as we approach this time-honored American tradition, we are reminded that our challenges can be met if we summon the spirit that has sustained our democracy since George Washington took the first oath of office."
This is Mr. Obama's last address as the Democratic response as next week he will begin giving the traditional weekly presidential radio address. Meanwhile, President Bush delivered his final presidential radio address, where he said he had a simple message – "thank you."
"Eight years ago, Laura and I left our home in Texas to come to Washington," Mr. Bush said. "Through two terms in the White House, we have been blessed by your kind words and generous prayers. We have been inspired by those of you who reach out to feed the hungry, clothe the needy, and care for the sick. We have been moved by the courage and devotion of those of you who wear the uniform. Serving as your president has been an incredible honor."
(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Mr. Bush also touched on many of the same themes of his farewell speech on Thursday. The full text is below or you listen to the address here.
Mr. Obama also videotapes his weekly address which you can watch below:
Here is the full text of both radio addresses:
Good morning. On Tuesday, the world will be watching as America celebrates a rite that goes to the heart of our greatness as a nation. For the forty-third time, we will execute the peaceful transfer of power from one President to the next.
The first Inauguration took place 220 years ago. Our nation's capital had yet to be built, so President George Washington took the oath of office in New York City. It was a spring day, just over a decade after the birth of our nation, as Washington assumed the new office that he would do so much to shape, and swore an oath to the Constitution that guides us to this very day.
Since then, Inaugurations have taken place during times of war and peace; in Depression and prosperity. Our democracy has undergone many changes, and our people have taken many steps in pursuit of a more perfect union. What has always endured is this peaceful and orderly transition of power.
For us, it is easy to take this central aspect of our democracy for granted. But we must remember that our nation was founded at a time of Kings and Queens, and even today billions of people around the world cannot imagine their leaders giving up power without strife or bloodshed.
Through the ages, many have struggled for the right to live in a land where power does not belong to one person or party, and many brave Americans have fought and died to help advance that right. Through the long twilight struggle of the Cold War, our transitions from one President to the next provided a stark contrast to the suffocating grip of Soviet Communism. And today, the resilience of our democracy stands in opposition to the extremists who would tear it down.
Here at home, transitions also remind us that what we hold in common as Americans far outweighs our political differences. Throughout the current transition, President Bush and his Administration have extended the hand of cooperation, and provided invaluable assistance to my team as we prepare to hit the ground running on January 20th.
There is much work to be done. But now, all Americans hold within our hands the promise of a new beginning.
That is why the events of the next several days are not simply about the inauguration of an American President – they will be a celebration of the American people. We will carry the voices of ordinary Americans to Washington. We will invite people across the country to work on behalf of a common purpose through a national day of service on Monday. And we will have the most open and accessible Inauguration in history – for those who travel to the capital, and for those who choose one of the many ways to participate in the Inauguration from their own communities and their own homes.
Together, we know that this is a time of great challenge for the American people. Difficult days are upon us, and even more difficult days lie ahead. Our nation is at war. Our economy is in great turmoil. And there is so much work that must be done to restore peace and advance prosperity. But as we approach this time-honored American tradition, we are reminded that our challenges can be met if we summon the spirit that has sustained our democracy since George Washington took the first oath of office.
Addressing the nation that day, Washington explained his decision to serve, saying, "I was called by my country, whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love." This Tuesday, we can reaffirm our own veneration and love for our country and our democracy. We can once again provide an example to the world, and move forward with a renewed sense of purpose and progress at home.
Good morning. For the last eight years, I have had the honor of speaking to the American people Saturday mornings through this radio address. In hundreds of broadcasts, I have talked to you about important issues affecting our security and our prosperity. And today, in my final address, I want to send a simple and heartfelt message: Thank you.
Eight years ago, Laura and I left our home in Texas to come to Washington. Through two terms in the White House, we have been blessed by your kind words and generous prayers. We have been inspired by those of you who reach out to feed the hungry, clothe the needy, and care for the sick. We have been moved by the courage and devotion of those of you who wear the uniform. Serving as your President has been an incredible honor.
Like every individual who has held this office before me, I have experienced setbacks. There are things I would do differently if given the chance. Yet I've always acted with the best interests of our country in mind. I have followed my conscience and done what I thought was right. You may not agree with some tough decisions I have made. But I hope you can agree that I was willing to make the tough decisions.
The decades ahead will bring more hard choices for our country, and there are some guiding principles that should shape our course. While our Nation is safer than it was seven years ago, the gravest threat to our people remains another terrorist attack. Our enemies are patient, and determined to strike again. America did nothing to seek or deserve this conflict. But we have been given solemn responsibilities, and we must meet them. We must resist complacency. We must keep our resolve. And we must never let down our guard.
At the same time, we must continue to engage the world with confidence and clear purpose. In the face of threats from abroad, it can be tempting to seek comfort by turning inward. But we must reject isolationism and its companion, protectionism. Retreating behind our borders would only invite danger. In the 21st century, security and prosperity at home depend on the expansion of liberty abroad. If America does not lead the cause of freedom, that cause will not be led.
As we address these challenges -- and others we cannot foresee today -- America must maintain our moral clarity. I've often spoken to you about good and evil. This has made some uncomfortable. But good and evil are present in this world, and between the two there can be no compromise. Murdering the innocent to advance an ideology is wrong every time, everywhere. Freeing people from oppression and despair is eternally right. This Nation must continue to speak out for justice and truth. We must always be willing to act in their defense -- and to advance the cause of peace.
Eight years ago, on a cold January morning, I stood on the steps of the United States Capitol, placed my hand on the Bible, and swore a sacred oath to defend our people and our Constitution. On that day, I spoke of "our Nation's grand story of courage and its simple dream of dignity." Next week, my term of service will come to an end -- but that story and that dream will continue.
On Tuesday, Laura and I will join all Americans in offering our best wishes to President Obama, his wife Michelle, and their two beautiful girls. And later that day, we will return to the love of family and friends in Texas. I will depart office proud of my Administration's record. And I will spend the rest of my life grateful for the opportunity to have served as President of the greatest nation on Earth.
Thank you for listening.
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Click here for the latest on Mr. Obama's train tour.
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