Sources and Miscellaneous


Introductory Remarks
of Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY)
at the Presidential Inauguration
21 January 2013

Mr. President, Mr. Vice president, members of congress all who are present, and to all who are watching, welcome to the capitol into this celebration of our great democracy.

This is the 57th Inauguration of an American president. And no matter how many times one witnesses this event, its simplicity, its innate majesty, and most of all its meaning, that sacred yet cautious entrusting of power, from we the people to our chosen leader, never fails to make one's heart beat faster, as it will today with the inauguration of President Barack H Obama.

Now we know that we would not be here today if not for those who stand guard around the world to preserve our freedom. To those in our armed forces, we offer our infinite thanks for your bravery, your honor, your sacrifice.

This democracy of ours was forged by intellect and argument, by activism and blood, and above all, from John Adams to Elizabeth Cady Stanton to Martin Luther King, by a stubborn adherence to the notion that we are all created equal and that we deserve nothing less than a great republic worthy of our consent.

The theme of this year's inaugural is Faith in America's Future. The perfect embodiment of this unshakable confidence in the ongoing success of our collective journey is an event from our past. I speak of the improbable completion of the Capitol Dome and capping it with the statue of freedom which occurred 150 years ago in 1863.

When Abraham Lincoln took office two years earlier, the dome above us was a half-built eyesore. Conventional wisdom was that it should be left unfinished until the war ended, given the travails and financial needs of the times. But to President Lincoln, the half finished dome symbolized the half divided nation.

Lincoln said, "if people see that capital going on it is a sign we intend the union shall go on. "

And so despite the conflict which engulfed the nation and surrounded this city, the dome continued to rise.

On December 2 1863, The statue of freedom, a woman, was placed atop the dome where she still stands today. In a sublime irony it was a former slave, now free-American Philip Reid, who helped to cast the bronze statue.

Now our present times are not as perilous or despairing as they were in 1863. But in 2013, far too many doubt the future of this great nation and our ability to tackle our own fear is the half-finished dome. Today's problems are intractable, they say, the times are so complex, the differences in the country in the world so deep, we will never overcome them. When thoughts like these produce anxiety, fear, and even despair, we do well to remember that Americans have always then and still are, practical, optimistic, problem solving people.

And that as our history shows no matter how steep the climb, how difficult the problems, how half-finished the task, America always rises to the occasion. America prevails and America prospers.

And those who bet against this country have inevitably been on the wrong side of history.

So it is a good moment to gaze upward and behold the statue of freedom at the top of the Capitol Dome. It is a good moment to gain strength and courage and humility from those who were determined to complete the half-finished dome. It is a good moment to rejoice today at this 57th presidential inaugural ceremony, and it is the perfect moment to renew our collective faith in the future of America.

Thank you, and God Bless these United States.


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