In the midst of enormous challenges facing the country, Barack Hussein Obama took the reins of power as the nation's first black president, today, calling on Americans to "dust themselves off" and begin a "new era of responsibility."
"On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear," he said. "Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America."
Did Obama's speech live up to its expectations? Watch more analysis from CBN News Political reporter David Brody, following Erick Stakelbeck's report from the Capitol.
Obama called for responsibility, admitting the challenges of the future while noting time-honored values that are still true and needed.
"What is demanded then is a return to these truths," he said. "What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world."
The World Watches
Around the country and around the globe, millions of people watched, many with tears, as Obama addressed the nation as president for the first time.
To the world, Obama vowed once again that America is "a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more."
As he takes office, the new President inherits two wars and a host of global challenges. He renewed his campaign promise to withdraw troops responsibly from Iraq and to work for peace in Afghanistan.
He reminded citizens that earlier generations understood that the nation's security comes not from using power "as we please," but from its "prudent use."
The nation becomes stronger because "our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint," he said.
He also issued a strong warning to terrorist regimes and individuals who seek to destroy this country.
"For those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you."
He addressed the Muslim world directly, calling out radical regimes for being on the "wrong side of history."
"Know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy," he said. "To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist."
Assuming the Presidency
Even before taking the oath, Obama assumed the presidency as stated in the Constitution. The 20th Amendment provides that the transfer of power is complete when the clock strikes noon.
It specifies that the terms of office of the president and vice president "shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of their successors shall then begin."
Vice President Joe Biden was sworn in as the 47th vice president of the United States moments before Obama took the oath. The 66-year-old Biden served 36 years as a Delaware senator.
The nation's 56th inauguration day began for Obama and Biden with a traditional morning worship service at St. John's Episcopal Church. The festivities won't end until well after midnight, with dancing and partying at 10 inaugural balls.
As is customary, Obama and his wife, Michelle, joined President Bush and his wife, Laura, at the White House for coffee. The four then rode together in a heavily guarded limousine to the U.S. Capitol for the transfer of power.
Obama took the 39-word presidential oath in West Front on the same Bible that President Abraham Lincoln used at his first inauguration in 1861. The oath was administered by Chief Justice John Roberts. It has been uttered by every president since George Washington and includes the words "so help me God."
In his closing remarks Obama apealled to Washington's charge to forge across the icy Delaware river, made after tough wintry defeats during the Revolutionary war. It was then that the fate of the fledgling country was most uncertain.
"America, in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words," Obama said of Washington's charge.
"Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end," Obama said. "That we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations."
More than a million people braved the figid weather on the National Mall to witness the historic inauguration.