President George W. Bush began his second term with a salute to freedom, democracy and peace, as he pledged himself to the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world" and the protection of "the God-given right of every human being". And while millions of protestors took to the streets with heavy criticism against the administration, many more supporters cheered the newly reinstated President for being an inspiration to both America and the nations abroad.
"I thought the president gave a speech that should inspire our nation by reminding us of who we are and where we've been and laying out a path of where that means we should go," said Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Conventions Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission, to Baptist Press.
[It was] a great speech that reaffirmed the timeless verities of the American people -- that freedom is the God-given right of every human being and that America is the hope for freedom-loving people all over the world, he added. And I'm sure that there are people who live in servitude and degradation and oppression around the world who will be encouraged and given renewed hope by President Bush's proclamation that when they stand for freedom they have a friend in the United States of America.
President Bushs 21-minute inaugural speech, delivered at the west side of the U.S. Capitol, reinforced the theme his administration carried since the 9/11 terrorist attacks: Bringing freedom and liberty to all nations, so the world may be at peace.
"The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands," Bush said. "The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world."
While President Bush did not specifically mention the words Afghanistan or Iraq, he reiterated the main reason why the war in Iraq had to be fought: protecting the dignity and intrinsic value of human life, as given to all men by the creator God.
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, said Bush. 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, he continued.
In acknowledging the great political division within America, Bush reached out with a call for unity and fellowship under the just 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, said Bush. 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.
And with a humble, but certain tone, Bush said America moves forward, not because it is a chosen nation, but because it believes in the eventual triumph of freedom.
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, said Bush. 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.
Bush also took the time to salute those who have helped liberate tens of millions of people, and called on "our youngest citizens" to follow their example.
"You have seen that life is fragile, and evil is real, and courage triumphs," the president told America's youth. "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."
And as usual, President Bush referred to the teachings of a higher being as the guiding force that leads America forward.
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, said Bush. 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.