Obama Invokes MLK as He Lays Out 2nd Term Agenda

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WASHINGTON -- Hundreds of thousands of people from across the country and around the world gathered in Washington Monday to honor a tradition dating back to the time of President George Washington: the public swearing in of the nation's commander in chief.

Upon taking the oath of office, the president placed his hand on a Bible used by President Lincoln. He also used the well-worn travel Bible of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. They were two men whose work helped pave his path to the presidency.

"I Barack Hussein Obama do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States," President Obama said, reciting the oath.

"Congratulations, Mr. President," Chief Justice John Roberts said.

Vice President Joe Biden took his oath, too, placing his hand on a five-inch thick Bible that's been in his family since 1893.

Later, as the president gave his inaugural speech, his words were reminiscent of the late Dr. King.

"While freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth," the president said during his inaugural address.

Freedom, he said, is not reserved for the lucky. He added that no matter how responsibly American's live their lives, they're not immune from needing the government's help.

"The commitments we make to each other - through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security - these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us," Obama said. "They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great."

On Martin Luther King Day, the president paid respect to America's civil rights leaders.

"We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths - that all of us are created equal - is the star that guides us still, just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall," the president said.

He told the inaugural crowd that it's this generation's task to complete the journey they began.

"Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law - for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well," Obama said.

The president used his 15-minute speech to lay out his values and his dreams for the next four years: gay marriage, equal pay for women and immigration reform, climate change, voting laws, and a strong social safety net.

Some were affirmed in the closing prayer.

"We will see that we are created in Your image, whether brown, black or white, male or female, first generation immigrant American or daughter of the American Revolution, gay or straight, rich or poor," Rev. Luis Leon, who leads St. John's Episcopal Church, prayed.

The president has an ambitious agenda for his second term. Pushing any of his initiatives through a divided Congress will be difficult.

Before his swearing in ceremony he invited key members of Congress over to the White House, perhaps in an effort to make a fresh start.

CBN News talked to Dan Bendat, inauguration expert and author of "Democracy’s Big Day: The Inauguration of Our President 1789-2013." After today, President Obama will have taken the oath of office four times. Has that ever happened before?

Bendat said to watch the inauguration ceremony carefully because sometimes strange things happen.

Who is the only president in U.S. history to be sworn in by his father?

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CBN News
Jennifer Wishon

Jennifer Wishon

CBN News White House Correspondent

Jennifer Wishon is the White House correspondent for CBN News based in the network’s Washington, D.C. Bureau.  Before taking over the White House beat, Jennifer covered Capitol Hill and other national news, from the economy to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenniferWishon and "like" her at Facebook.com/JennWishon.