More than 100,000 people braved chilly temperatures to gather outside the U.S. Capitol on Thursday (January 20) as George W. Bush took the presidential oath for a second time and delivered an inaugural address in which he pledged that "America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling."
As members of the government, political dignitaries, former President Bill Clinton and the Bush family looked on, President Bush addressed issues of freedom, sustaining liberty and fighting tyranny.
"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," he said.
"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," Bush said. "The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world."
Bush, the 43rd American president and only the 16th to win a second term, was sworn in by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, 80, who made his first official appearance since beginning his treatment for thyroid cancer.
With this year's inauguration being the first since 9-11, security was extremely tight. Attendees in the ticketed-areas were wanded and patted down while soldiers stood nearby, clutching assault rifles. Sharpshooters were positioned on rooftops, while police lined the route of the inaugural parade. The streets were a maze of barricades, military vehicles and police — around 6,000 officers from various law-enforcement agencies and some 2,500 military troops.
But for the assembled crowds — largely white, hugely pro-Bush — the security presence and cold weather did little to dampen their spirits. They wore cowboy hats, waved banners and cheered loudly whenever any member of Bush's immediate family appeared on the giant video screen during the pre-inauguration introductions (and lustily booed when John Kerry, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were announced). While awaiting the appearance of the commander in chief, they snapped pictures, thumbed through copies of "The Limbaugh Letter," or, in the case of some bored kids, used the readily available snow to build snowmen.
Several protest demonstrations reportedly took place on the outskirts of the crowds, while outside the gates, throngs of protestors marched down Fourteenth Street carrying flag-draped coffins and shouting, "Stop the war! Stop the killing!" Others carried placards calling Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney warmongers and "The real WMDs." Overall, most criticism seemed focused on Bush's foreign policy and the war in Iraq.
Bush dedicated a small portion of his speech to addressing his critics. "Some, I know, have questioned the global appeal of liberty," he said, "though this time in history, four decades defined by the swiftest advance of freedom ever seen, is an odd time for doubt."
He also spoke about widening ownership of homes and businesses, expanding the availability of health insurance, boosting standards for the country's schools, and maintaining a unified America.
Following his address, the president took part in the traditional inaugural parade along Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House, where he'll need to rest up for the evening's series of inaugural balls, nine of which he is scheduled to attend.