George W. Bush Inauguration Address - January 20, 2005

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George W. Bush Inauguration Address - January 20, 2005


Inauguration Address Delivered During a Major US War


Vice President Cheney, Mr. Chief Justice, President Carter, President
Bush, President Clinton, Members of the United States Congress, reverend
clergy, distinguished guests, fellow citizens:

On this day, prescribed by law and marked by ceremony, we celebrate the
durable wisdom of our Constitution and recall the deep commitments that
unite our country. I am grateful for the honor of this hour, mindful of
the consequential times in which we live, and determined to fulfill the
oath that I have sworn and you have witnessed.

At this second gathering, our duties are defined not by the words I use
but by the history we have seen together. For a half a century, America
defended our own freedom by standing watch on distant borders. After the
shipwreck of communism came years of relative quiet, years of repose,
years of sabbatical, and then there came a day of fire.

We have seen our vulnerability, and we have seen its deepest source. For
as long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny,
prone to ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder, violence will
gather and multiply in destructive power and cross the most defended
borders and raise a mortal threat. There is only one force of history
that can break the reign of hatred and resentment and expose the
pretensions of tyrants and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant,
and that is the force of human freedom.

We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival
of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in
other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of
freedom in all the world.

America's vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one. From the
day of our founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this
Earth has rights and dignity and matchless value, because they bear the
image of the Maker of heaven and Earth. Across the generations, we have
proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to
be a master and no one deserves to be a slave. Advancing these ideals is
the mission that created our Nation. It is the honorable achievement of
our fathers. Now, it is the urgent requirement of our Nation's security
and the calling of our time.

So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth
of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture,
with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world. This is not
primarily the task of arms, though we will defend ourselves and our
friends by force of arms when necessary. Freedom, by its nature, must be
chosen and defended by citizens and sustained by the rule of law and the
protection of minorities. And when the soul of a nation finally speaks,
the institutions that arise may reflect customs and traditions very
different from our own. America will not impose our own style of
government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find
their own voice, attain their own freedom, and make their own way.

The great objective of ending tyranny is the concentrated work of
generations. The difficulty of the task is no excuse for avoiding it.
America's influence is not unlimited, but fortunately for the oppressed,
America's influence is considerable and we will use it confidently in
freedom's cause.

My most solemn duty is to protect this Nation and its people from
further attacks and emerging threats. Some have unwisely chosen to test
America's resolve and have found it firm. We will persistently clarify
the choice before every ruler and every nation, the moral choice between
oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right.

America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains or
that women welcome humiliation and servitude or that any human being
aspires to live at the mercy of bullies. We will encourage reform in
other governments by making clear that success in our relations will
require the decent treatment of their own people. America's belief in
human dignity will guide our policies. Yet rights must be more than the
grudging concessions of dictators. They are secured by free dissent and
the participation of the governed. In the long run, there is no justice
without freedom and there can be no human rights without human liberty.

Some, I know, have questioned the global appeal of liberty, though this
time in history, four decades defined by the swiftest advance of freedom
ever seen, is an odd time for doubt. Americans, of all people, should
never be surprised by the power of our ideals. Eventually, the call of
freedom comes to every mind and every soul. We do not accept the
existence of permanent tyranny because we do not accept the possibility
of permanent slavery. Liberty will come to those who love it.

Today, America speaks anew to the peoples of the world. All who live in
tyranny and hopelessness can know: The United States will not ignore
your oppression or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your
liberty, we will stand with you.

Democratic reformers facing repression, prison, or exile can know:
America sees you for who you are, the future leaders of your free country.

The rulers of outlaw regimes can know that we still believe as Abraham
Lincoln did: "Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for
themselves and, under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it."

The leaders of governments with long habits of control need to know: To
serve your people, you must learn to trust them. Start on this journey
of progress and justice, and America will walk at your side.

And all the allies of the United States can know: We honor your
friendship; we rely on your counsel; and we depend on your help.
Division among free nations is a primary goal of freedom's enemies. The
concerted effort of free nations to promote democracy is a prelude to
our enemies' defeat.

Today I also speak anew to my fellow citizens. From all of you I have
asked patience in the hard task of securing America, which you have
granted in good measure. Our country has accepted obligations that are
difficult to fulfill and would be dishonorable to abandon. Yet because
we have acted in the great liberating tradition of this Nation, tens of
millions have achieved their freedom. And as hope kindles hope, millions
more will find it. By our efforts, we have lit a fire as well, a fire in
the minds of men. It warms those who feel its power. It burns those who
fight its progress. And one day this untamed fire of freedom will reach
the darkest corners of our world.

A few Americans have accepted the hardest duties in this cause, in the
quiet work of intelligence and diplomacy, the idealistic work of helping
raise up free governments, the dangerous and necessary work of fighting
our enemies. Some have shown their devotion to our country in deaths
that honored their whole lives, and we will always honor their names and
their sacrifice.

All Americans have witnessed this idealism and some for the first time.
I ask our youngest citizens to believe the evidence of your eyes. You
have seen duty and allegiance in the determined faces of our soldiers.
You have seen that life is fragile and evil is real and courage
triumphs. Make the choice to serve in a cause larger than your wants,
larger than yourself, and in your days you will add not just to the
wealth of our country but to its character.

America has need of idealism and courage because we have essential work
at home, the unfinished work of American freedom. In a world moving
toward liberty, we are determined to show the meaning and promise of

In America's ideal of freedom, citizens find the dignity and security of
economic independence instead of laboring on the edge of subsistence.
This is the broader definition of liberty that motivated the Homestead
Act, the Social Security Act, and the GI bill of rights. And now we will
extend this vision by reforming great institutions to serve the needs of
our time. To give every American a stake in the promise and future of
our country, we will bring the highest standards to our schools and
build an ownership society. We will widen the ownership of homes and
businesses, retirement savings, and health insurance, preparing our
people for the challenges of life in a free society. By making every
citizen an agent of his or her own destiny, we will give our fellow
Americans greater freedom from want and fear and make our society more
prosperous and just and equal.

In America's ideal of freedom, the public interest depends on private
character, on integrity and tolerance toward others and the rule of
conscience in our own lives. Self-government relies, in the end, on the
governing of the self. That edifice of character is built in families,
supported by communities with standards, and sustained in our national
life by the truths of Sinai, the Sermon on the Mount, the words of the
Koran, and the varied faiths of our people. Americans move forward in
every generation by reaffirming all that is good and true that came
before, ideals of justice and conduct that are the same yesterday,
today, and forever.

In America's ideal of freedom, the exercise of rights is ennobled by
service and mercy and a heart for the weak. Liberty for all does not
mean independence from one another. Our Nation relies on men and women
who look after a neighbor and surround the lost with love. Americans, at
our best, value the life we see in one another and must always remember
that even the unwanted have worth. And our country must abandon all the
habits of racism, because we cannot carry the message of freedom and the
baggage of bigotry at the same time.

From the perspective of a single day, including this day of dedication,
the issues and questions before our country are many. From the viewpoint
of centuries, the questions that come to us are narrowed and few: Did
our generation advance the cause of freedom? And did our character bring
credit to that cause?

These questions that judge us also unite us, because Americans of every
party and background, Americans by choice and by birth are bound to one
another in the cause of freedom. We have known divisions, which must be
healed to move forward in great purposes, and I will strive in good
faith to heal them. Yet those divisions do not define America. We felt
the unity and fellowship of our Nation when freedom came under attack,
and our response came like a single hand over a single heart. And we can
feel that same unity and pride whenever America acts for good and the
victims of disaster are given hope and the unjust encounter justice and
the captives are set free.

We go forward with complete confidence in the eventual triumph of
freedom, not because history runs on the wheels of inevitability - it is
human choices that move events; not because we consider ourselves a
chosen nation - God moves and chooses as He wills. We have confidence
because freedom is the permanent hope of mankind, the hunger in dark
places, the longing of the soul. When our Founders declared a new order
of the ages, when soldiers died in wave upon wave for a union based on
liberty, when citizens marched in peaceful outrage under the banner
"Freedom Now," they were acting on an ancient hope that is meant to be
fulfilled. History has an ebb and flow of justice, but history also has
a visible direction, set by liberty and the Author of Liberty.

When the Declaration of Independence was first read in public and the
Liberty Bell was sounded in celebration, a witness said, "It rang as if
it meant something." In our time, it means something still. America, in
this young century, proclaims liberty throughout all the world and to
all the inhabitants thereof. Renewed in our strength, tested but not
weary, we are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of

May God bless you, and may He watch over the United States of America.


January 20, 2005



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