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Obama's Remarks at Inauguration Luncheon

Obama's Remarks at Inauguration Luncheon

Senator Barack Obama - January 20, 2009

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Please, everybody, be seated.

My remarks are very brief. First of all, I know that, while I was out of the room, concern was expressed about Teddy. He was there when the Voting Rights Act passed; along with John Lewis, was a warrior for justice; and so I would be lying to you if I did not say that, right now, a part of me is with him. And I think that's true for all of us.

This is a joyous time, but it's also a sobering time. And my prayers are with him and his family and Vicki.

I want to thank Dianne, Bob, and the entire committee for hosting just an extraordinary, extraordinary inauguration. When you think about the complexities of putting together an event of this size and this scope, you have to marvel at the leadership and the teamwork and the good spirits that went into it.

And I want to thank our military and our law enforcement officers, the city of Washington, and Mayor Fenty, the devoted staff and volunteers, including our wait staff here today, who were putting up with me wandering through the tables...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: It's always hazardous duty serving in a room full of politicians. But I thank all of you for just an incredible, incredible event.

This has been a historic inauguration; that's been noted before. You see it not so much in this room, although this is a gathering of some of my best friends and my family and people with extraordinary records of leadership in this country -- including our past presidents, Presidents Carter and Clinton, as well as Vice President Quayle.

Did I miss anybody? And Vice President Gore, right in front of me. And Vice President Mondale. See, this is what happens when you start.

But I think the depth of the moment is expressed by the people beyond these halls, millions of people who, over the last three, four days, and tens of millions more over the last two years have participated in the very essence of our democracy. It's not just their size, but it's their intensity and their engagement.

What's happening today is not about me. It is about the American people. They understand that we have arrived at a moment of great challenge for our nation, a time of peril, but also extraordinary promise.

And by being here today and by participating in innumerable ways across cities and small towns and suburbs all across the country, they are demonstrating the readiness to answer history's call and to step up, and give back, and take responsibility for serving the common purpose of remaking our nation.

The American people have come together across races and regions and stations. Now we have to do the same.

Now it falls to us, the people's representatives, to give our fullest measure of devotion to the cause of freedom and liberty and justice, decency and dignity. And our chambers should reflect what we know are in the hearts of the American people.

And so I would like to -- all of us, to rededicate ourselves to fulfilling the sacred charge the American people have given to us. I would like all of us to come together with a sense of purpose and civility and urgency.

It doesn't mean we're going to agree on everything. And I assure you our administration will make mistakes. But what the American people I think do expect from us now is a sense not of simply our trying to advance our own aims, but trying to advance theirs. And I'm confident we can do so.

Thank you all for this great honor, and I look forward to working with you in the years to come.

(APPLAUSE)

Barack Obama is the President of the United States of America.

Senator Barack Obama

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