Amid thousand of law enforcement personnel, and millions of dollars worth of security equipment, President George Walker Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney took the oath of office in Thursday’s presidential inauguration.
The inauguration, the first since the Sept. 11 attacks of 2001 drew thousands of people to the nation’s Capitol to witness the events.
With temperatures hovering above freezing, 58-year-old Bush firmly placed his hand on the same bible used in his first inauguration, and reaffirmed his oath of office outside the capitol building.
“I, George Walker Bush, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of the president of the United States, and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, so help me God,” Bush swore.
After Chief Justice of the Supreme Court William Rehnquist issued the oath President Bush took the podium to deliver his inaugural address.
Bush did not speak very long, but touched on foreign policy issues.
While not mentioning the war in Iraq by name, Bush did refer to its challenges and dangers.
“Our country has accepted obligations that are difficult to fulfill and would be dishonorable to abandon,” he said.
“[But]… tens of millions have obtained their freedom, and as hope kindles hope, many more millions will find it.”
Several dignitaries, including former presidents Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Jimmy Carter as well as Sen. John Kerry listened as the 43rd president appealed to the youth of America to serve their country.
“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,” Bush began.
“You have seen that life is fragile, and evil is real, and courage triumphs. Make the choice to serve in a cause larger than yourself and in your days you will add not just to the wealth of our country, but to its character.”
Bush ended his 2,000 word speech by saying that America is ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom.
After the speech, the president and vice president headed into the capitol building for lunch.
Several celebrations took place after the inauguration, including a 1.7 mile parade featuring 11,000 people, floats, vehicles and horses held along Pennsylvania Avenue.
President Bush also made an appearance at nine inaugural balls.
Not everyone came to celebrate though.
Anti-war protestors held demonstrations in the capitol, and turned their backs when Bush passed by along the parade route.
Other protestors carried black cardboard coffins representing soldiers killed in Iraq, and held up signs reading: “Worst President Ever” and “Four More Years: God HELP America.”
To keep protestors in line, and thwart potential attacks, about 6,000 officers from several agencies patrolled the city, along with 2,500 military troops involved in security operations.
Bomb sniffing dogs checked subway trains underground and snipers posted on rooftops above the crowd.
Military jets enforced the expanded “no -fly” zone, and U.S. air marshals were posted on almost every flight coming into all three of Washington’s airports.
The city of Washington has estimated its security costs at $17.3 million.
In all, the inaugural events cost about $40 million, which was raised from private donors.
To close out the week’s activities, a national prayer service will be held today from 10 to 11 a.m at the National Cathedral in Washington.
The Associated Press and CNN News contributed to this report.
Contact Sidney Wright iv at email@example.com.