U.S. President Barack Obama (L) takes the oath of office during the presidential inauguration ceremony on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C., the United States, on Jan. 21, 2013. (Xinhua/Zhang Jun)
WASHINGTON, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday took oath for his second term in a public inauguration ceremony at the Capitol grounds, reaffirming America's founding principles in a call for unity and a vow for more engagement in foreign affairs.
Obama made the calls in his inaugural address. He said the founding values of America have never been "self-executing", calling on the country to "bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time."
In a call for unity, Obama said: "Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people."
The president, emboldened by his success in the presidential election last year, in which he roundly beat Republican challenger Mitt Romney, emphasized a balanced approach in his second term.
He promised to tackle public debt and federal deficit in a balanced way, and strengthen the social security network. He vowed to "harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools."
"We reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future," said Obama.
In reference to immigration reform and gun control, two main tasks in his second term, the president said he will strive to " find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity," as well as ensuring children are "cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm. "
"A decade of war is now ending. An economic recovery has begun, " Obama said. "We have always understood that when times change, so must we."
Obama also mentioned gay rights for the first time in an inaugural address, and devoted an important portion of his speech to climate change.
Mapping out his foreign policy for the next four years, Obama said: "We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war...We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully, not because we are naive about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear."
He also assured allies that the United States will "remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe," while promising the country "will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations."
VISION LAID OUT
Placed his hand on two Bibles, one owned by President Abraham Lincoln, the other by Dr. Martin Luther King, Obama recited the presidential oath.
The president has been officially sworn in to the second term at a private ceremony in the White House Sunday as required by the constitution. As the date fell on a Sunday, Obama took the oath of office again at the public inauguration ceremony Monday.
This marks the seventh time that a U.S. president's inauguration ceremony falls on Monday following an Inauguration Day on Sunday, and also the second time the ceremonial swearing-in falls on the Martin Luther King Day.
According to David Plouffe, Obama's senior advisor, the inaugural address is part one of his second term agenda. In an interview on Sunday with ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week ", Plouffe said the address would "lay out his vision for a second term. The detailed blueprint and ideas will be in the State of the Union," which Obama is to deliver on Feb. 12.
Obama is facing no shortage of challenges in his second term. In addressing the country in a decidedly progressive inaugural address, Obama is trying to enlist the people to advance his agenda in face of Republican resistance in Congress.
Many of the old challenges the president has faced in the first term still hang around now. The economy, an issue that nearly 70 percent of Americans give top priority to in a latest poll, is still weak. Fierce fights over fiscal problems and immigration reforms are also looming for the early months of Obama's second term. The president's newly announced gun control agenda is well expected to meet resistance on Capitol Hill.
SECOND TERM WISH-LIST
An estimated 800,000 people attended Monday's inauguration and parade in a quite chilly weather, about half of the crowd who flooded to the capital four years ago to watch the historic inauguration of the first African American President.
Andrian Pedroza, executive director of Partnership for Community Action group, came from the state of New Mexico to "be part of the president's second term inauguration" at the capital.
"Definitely immigration reform is on the top of my wish-list for the president," said the second-generation of a Mexican immigration family and father of a four-year-old girl. He hopes the big moment has finally come to address the huge challenges of immigration.
He thought the Obama administration has set the immigration reform a priority in the early months of a second term, hence would have a good opportunity to pass in the Congress.
Harpreet S. Sandhu, a member of Sikh community and a former city council member from Richmond, California, attended the historic inauguration in 2009 when Obama was sworn in to be the first African American President.
"Of course, there were hundreds of thousands of people coming to the capital four years ago, but I am still excited to be here the second time," said him.
Sandhu said gun control is definitely among the issues that should be looked at during Obama's second term, particularly following a series of mass shooting tragedies in his first term, including a shocking shooting rampage at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin last August.