Today, President Barack Obama will participate in the ceremonial swearing-in at the U.S. Capitol. The actual oath of office was administered yesterday morning at 11:55 in the Blue Room of the White House beginning his second term on the date, Jan. 20, prescribed by the Constitution of the United States of America.
The tradition of offering a speech of soaring vision and hope began with George Washington and continues today. Notable quotes from speeches across the line of history include the following:
"No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. ...In the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their united government the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities from which the event has resulted cannot be compared with the means by which most governments have been established... along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings ..."
- George Washington
"Let us, then, fellow citizens, unite with one heart and one mind. Let us restore to social intercourse that harmony and affection without which liberty and even life itself are but dreary things. And let us reflect that, having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and persecutions."
- Thomas Jefferson
"With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds."
- Abraham Lincoln
"Much has been given us, and much will rightfully be expected from us. We have duties to others and duties to ourselves; and we can shirk neither."
- Theodore Roosevelt
"Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty. ... My fellow Americans: Ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: Ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man." - John F. Kennedy
"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem.... this administration's objective will be a healthy, vigorous, growing economy that provides equal opportunity for all Americans, with no barriers born of bigotry or discrimination. Putting America back to work means putting all Americans back to work. ... We are a nation that has a government -- not the other way around. ... Our Government has no power except that granted it by the people. It is time to check and reverse the growth of government which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed."
- Ronald Reagan
These memorable phrases reflect the times during which these great men were elected to serve, yet there is only one 35-word sentence that unites them and actually has any authority:
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
Most would agree, the Constitution has been anything but preserved, protected and defended in recent years. The integrity and greatness of our nation is directly linked to the observance of this Oath of Office. Let's demand it!
Robin Smith is a wife and mother living in Hixson. She served as chairwoman of the Tennessee Republican Party from 2007 to 2009.