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President Obama’s Inauguration Speech Explained

Barack Obama became the 44th President of the United States on Tuesday.  All presidents deliver (give, say) a speech after they are sworn in (take an official oath or promise).  These speeches are often difficult to understand for non-native speakers, since they usually contain some poetic language and difficult vocabulary.  Below is the entire text of President Obama’s inauguration speech, with difficult words explained in parentheses.  You can watch the actual speech on YouTube here.  I have given the entire speech without explanations at the bottom of the page.

~Jeff

——-

President OBAMA: My fellow (those who belong to the same group as I do; Americans) citizens:

I stand here today humbled (feeling unworthy, honored) by the task before us (the job we have to do), grateful (thankful) for the trust you have bestowed (given me), mindful (remembering, conscious of) of the sacrifices borne by (suffered by) our ancestors (those who came before us). I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity (giving much of something to someone) and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition (the time of change from one president to another).

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity (times of economic growth and expansion) and the still waters (calm times) of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst (during the time of) gathering clouds and raging storms (bad times when there are many crises and problems that are about to happen).  At these moments, America has carried on (continued, survived) not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office (those who hold important political positions, such as the president), but because we the people have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears (those who came before us, ancestors), and true to (loyal to, respecting) our founding documents (the Constitution and other legal acts that were part of the establishment or creation of the United States).

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst (in the middle of) of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching (large, present in many different places) network (organized groups) of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened (in poor condition, in trouble), a consequence (result) of greed (wanting too much money) and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure (shared mistake, something we all are responsible for) to make hard (difficult) choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost (when your home is taken from you by the bank for failure to pay your loan); jobs shed (lost); businesses shuttered (closed). Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries (enemies) and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to (according to, depending on) data and statistics. Less measurable (able to be counted) but no less profound (serious, important) is a sapping (lowering, lessening) of confidence across our land (in different parts of the country) — a nagging fear (fear that bothers you over a long period of time, suspicion that something is wrong) that America’s decline is inevitable (cannot be avoided), and that the next generation must lower its sights (be less optimistic, willing to have less).

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met (solved, taken care of) easily or in a short span (amount) of time. But know this, America — they will be met.

On this day, we gather (meet, come together) because we have chosen hope over (instead of) fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord (disagreement).

On this day, we come to proclaim (announce, tell everyone) an end to the petty (small, unimportant) grievances (complaints) and false promises, the recriminations (response to someone blaming you or saying that you are wrong), and worn out (no longer useful, tired) dogmas (ideologies, fixed ideas that cannot be changed), that for far too long have strangled (caused problems for, stopped the progress of) our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture (sacred or important texts of a religion – here, the Christian sacred books; the Bible), the time has come to set aside (to put to one side, to end) childish (things for children, not appropriate for adults) things. The time has come to reaffirm (to renew, to remember again) our enduring (long-lasting) spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward (to continue into the future) that precious (important) gift, that noble (great, worthy) idea, passed on (given to) from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue (to try to get) their full measure (complete amount) of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given (something you can count on or assume will be there).  It must be earned (worked for).  Our journey has never been one of shortcuts (faster route or road to somewhere) or settling for less (agree to take less of what you want or lower quality). It has not been the path (road) for the faint-hearted (weak) — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame.  Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure (unknown to others) in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged (uneven) path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up (got ready to move) their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled (worked hard) in sweatshops (factories with poor working conditions) and settled the West (the western half of the United States); endured (put up with, survived) the lash of the whip (a whip is a long, thin piece of leather or material used to beat animals or humans, including slaves; the lash is the part of the whip that hits the person) and plowed (made holes to plant seeds in the ground) the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sanh (famous war battles in U.S. history).

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw (rough, worn) so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum (result of adding things up) of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction (dissenting group that you belong to; political conflict and disagreement).

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive (creative), our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished (not less or not weaker). But our time of standing pat (doing nothing), of protecting narrow interests (concerns of only a small group) and putting off (delaying) unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed (has ended).  Starting today, we must pick ourselves up (get up off the ground; improve yourself), dust ourselves off (use your hands to remove dirt from being on the ground), and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state (condition) of the economy calls for action, bold (dramatic, significant) and swift (fast, quick), and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation (basis) for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids (system that carries electrical energy to homes and businesses) and digital lines (telecommunication cables and Internet lines) that feed (supply, help grow) our commerce and bind (join) us together. We will restore science to its rightful (correct, proper) place, and wield (use) technology’s wonders (great things) to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness (make use of) the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel (to power, to provide energy for) our cars and run (provide energy for) our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age (time, era). All this we can do. All this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale (size) of our ambitions (plans, desires for the future) — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate (support) too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to (linked to, connected to) common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics (people who see problems everywhere or who don’t really believe or trust anything) fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them (things have changed and they haven’t noticed the change yet) — that the stale (old, tired) political arguments that have consumed (taken up or occupied our time and attention) us for so long no longer apply (aren’t relevant, don’t matter). The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage (an acceptable amount of money from a job), care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified (good, worthy). Where the answer is yes, we intend to (plan to) move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. Those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account (held responsible, have to justify ourselves) — to spend wisely (intelligently), reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital (important, critical) trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force (means, a way to) for good or ill (badness, evil). Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched (without equal, that no one can equal), but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful (carefully watching or looking after) eye, the market can spin out of control (become unmanageable, suddenly become much worse) — and that a nation cannot prosper (do well economically) long when it favors (gives preference to or helps) only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product (the amount a country produces every year), but on the reach (extend) of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart (people who want to do something) — not out of charity (kindness), but because it is the surest (most reliable, dependable) route (road, path) to our common good.

As for our common defense (military defense of a country), we reject (say no to, refuse) as false the choice between our safety and our ideals (principles, what we think is right).  Our founding fathers (the people who started our country 200+ years ago) faced with perils (dangers) we can scarcely (hardly, with difficulty) imagine, drafted (wrote) a charter (an agreement, a document with guiding principles) to assure (make sure that there existed) the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood (deaths, when people die for a cause or purpose) of generations.  Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s (easy or convenient, but possibly immoral and wrong) sake (for the purpose of).  And so to all the other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest (most famous, largest) capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity (respect), and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall (remember) that earlier generations faced down (confronted, defeated) fascism and communism (totalitarian governments such as Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union) not just with missiles (large rockets with bombs) and tanks (large motor vehicles with guns), but with sturdy alliances (stable and trustworthy friendships) and enduring (long lasting) convictions (beliefs, ideals). They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle (give us the right) us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent (wise, careful) use; our security emanates (comes from) from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering (moderating, balancing) qualities of humility (not proud, respectful) and restraint (willingness not to do something, to hold yourself back).

We are the keepers (ones who must guard and continue) of this legacy (inheritance, things given to us by previous generations). Guided by (led by) these principles once more, we can meet those new threats (dangers) that demand even greater effort — even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge (create) a hard-earned (difficult to obtain or get) peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes (enemies), we will work tirelessly to lessen (reduce, decrease) the nuclear threat, and roll back (reverse, fight against) the specter (something bad that is feared or that might come in the future) of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver (decide not to defend or act) in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing (causing) terror and slaughtering (killing) innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken (changed, defeated); you cannot outlast (live longer or survive longer than) us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork (mixed, something that has many different parts) heritage (legacy, what we get from previous generations) is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers. We are shaped (formed, influenced) by every language and culture, drawn from (taken from) every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill (bad taste) of civil war and segregation (dividing people by their race or color of their skin), and emerged (came out of) from that dark chapter (period, time) stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass (stop, end); that the lines of tribe (small groups, usually with narrow interests) shall soon dissolve (end, go away); that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal (show) itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in (leading, helping) a new era (time) of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual (common) interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe (Earth, world) who seek to sow (to start) conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power (stay in their positions of power or leadership by force or with difficulty) through corruption (being paid illegally or immorally to do something, usually in government) and deceit (lies) and the silencing of dissent (disagreement with the government), 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 (fist is your hand with the fingers pressed tightly against your palm (closed); to unclench is to open the hand, to extend the fingers outward).

To the people of poor nations, we pledge (promise) to work alongside (with) you to make your farms flourish (do well) and let clean waters flow (move); to nourish (give food to) starved (hungry) bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty (wealth, healthy economies), we say we can no longer afford indifference (not paying attention) to the suffering outside our borders (our own country); nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to (without considering the impact or thinking about) effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds (develops, shows itself) before us, we remember with humble gratitude (thankfulness) those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol (guard, usually as part of the military) far-off (distant) deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us, just as the fallen (dead, killed) heroes who lie in Arlington (an official government and military cemetery (place where dead bodies are buried) near Washington, D.C.), whisper (speak in a very soft or low voice) through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians (protectors) of our liberty, but because they embody (are the best examples of) the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment — a moment that will define (mark, give direction or meaning to) a generation — it is precisely (exactly) this spirit that must inhabit (be part of) us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately (finally, after all other things) the faith and determination (strength and willingness to continue) of the American people upon which this nation relies (depends). It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees (walls that prevent a river from overflowing or going onto the surrounding land) break (fall down or open accidentally), the selflessness (kindness, willingness to help others) of workers who would rather cut (reduce) their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest (most difficult) hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm (to go into a difficult and dangerous situation) a stairway (part of the building with steps to climb to the next floor or level) filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments (means, tools) with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play (obeying the rules, doing the right thing), tolerance (accepting others who are different from you) and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition (realization, understanding), on the part of (by) every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly (unwillingly) accept but rather seize (take hold of, accept) gladly (happily), firm (confident) in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to (pleasing to) the spirit, so defining (to give meaning to, to describe accurately) of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on (asks) us to shape an uncertain destiny (future).

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed (statement of our beliefs) — why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent Mall (the large, open space in front of the U.S. Capitol building, where Obama was speaking), and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred (holy) oath (promise).

So let us mark (remember, give meaning to) this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band (group) of patriots (people loyal to their country) huddled (standing close together, usually because they are cold) by dying campfires (fires in the woods or an open field, used for cooking and keeping warm) on the shores (land on either side of a river) of an icy river. The capital (the city where the head of the government is located) was abandoned. The enemy was advancing (coming closer). The snow was stained (colored by) with blood. At a moment when the outcome (final result) of our revolution was most in doubt (unknown, not looking good), the father of our nation (George Washington, our first president and the military leader of the Revolutionary Army in the 1770s) ordered (said, demanded) these words be read to the people:

“Let it be told to the future world … that in the depth (worst part, coldest part) of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at (frightened by) one common danger, came forth to meet (it) (advanced or move forward to fight and defeat a challenge).”

America, in the face of (threatened by, in the presence of) our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship (difficult times), let us remember these timeless (eternal, long-lasting) words. With hope and virtue, let us brave (confront, go into) once more the icy currents (the movement of a river or ocean), and endure what storms may come.  Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back (reverse, go back) nor did we falter (become weak, stop moving forward); and with eyes fixed on the horizon (the line where the land meets the sky; the future) and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth (brought forward, carried) that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.

——-

Here is the text of the speech without explanations:

OBAMA: My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.
Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because we the people have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.
These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land — a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sanh.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.
For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. All this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. Those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control — and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart — not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers … our found fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all the other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know 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.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort — even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and 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.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. 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.
To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment — a moment that will define a generation — it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.
Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. 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, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed — why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent Mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

“Let it be told to the future world … that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet (it).”

America, in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, 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.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.

27 Responses to “President Obama’s Inauguration Speech Explained”

  1. Jorge Ramírez Says:

    Hello Jeff and Lucy,

    Im from Dominican Republic, I guess i´m the first dominican that found your website (if somebody else has found you)

    Yesterday I was thinking about taking this speech to look for unknown words and learn them, but What a surprise! you´ve done part of the work for me, that´s why i always read the blog and download all of your podcasts since you always keep us up to date.

    Finally let me tell you that i have been visiting your site for more than a year and wish you the best because I want ESLPOD for ever.

    Way to go ESLPOD team !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Fred Says:

    Thank you very much for this explanation !!!

  3. Javad Says:

    hi
    thank you very much , it’s very good and useful. you know I watched this speech live ,but it was very odd words that i didn’t knew them .
    and also thank you for new post in your website about new courses , you know for them in Iran it’s really hard to access to your products , but i try for it because it’s looks effective .

    thank you again .

  4. Bettina Says:

    What a great idea !!! Thank you very much. You are the best…

  5. emiliano Says:

    THANK YOU JEFF, what a great and wonderful work you have done for all of us.
    I am going to read it carefully and keep it in my memory.

    Thanks a million to you and Lucy as sure she has worked on it too.

  6. cat Says:

    wow, it’s a long speech
    thanks for the explanation

  7. Masakazu Takano Says:

    Hello, Jeff and Lucy,

    Like Jorge Ramirez from Dominican Republic, as soon as I had finished listening to President Obama’s inauguration speech, I decided to dictate every single words and whole sentences of what he’d said.
    Here in Japan, the inauguration ceremony started 2 am January 21, so it was pretty tough for me to stay awake and watch TV, but I didn’t want to miss this historic moment.
    The day after the speech was given, I was able to see it once again on the podcast, so I listened to it again and again and again, trying to understand what he said and to dictate the speech.
    But the problem was, there was no actual script for this speech, so if I managed to write down what he said, I would never be sure whether it’s right or not.
    But I found that on ESL Podcast blog today!
    Jeff, you know just what all the English learners want now!
    Thank you very much!

    Well, indeed,It was a great speech, wasn’t it?
    I was really moved into tears.
    I will keep on following Obama’s work perhaps for next eight years!

  8. Yura Says:

    Thank you Jeff. It is very interesting.(At least for me)

  9. Julio Says:

    It has been an interesting speech. Perhaps, it hasn’t been the best in America’s history either, indeed, among the speeches that the new President is capable to give or the previous ones he has already given, but it has had a fantastic outcome, mainly because many people are looking forward to changing.
    Dear member of ESL podcast, Thank you very much for your great job.
    Jullio, Spain.

  10. Eileen Says:

    Thank you Jeff for being so patient.

  11. Steven Says:

    Thanks Jeff!!!!

  12. Catherine Says:

    Hy Jeff
    I am French but I live in Morocco. I am a medical doctor and even if i dont use English in my everyday life,I am totally hooked on it. I try to listen to podcasts every day. Thanks to your great job, I learned a lot . It is almost a shame for me as I cant give you anything in exchange except my gratitude. I have decided to subscribe to your United States Course .
    My greetings to Lucy and to your wife.
    Catherine

  13. sotha Says:

    this is great teaching of english to english desirable learners in the world. i watched TV on the day of presidential inauguaration speeches by Obama himself but i could not catch with all meanings due to parts of difficult expressions of english. NOw i fould them easy on your website ESLPOD, i understand well and know the great speech from the president. I learn lots of things here. Thank you Jeft every much

    Sotha

  14. Selma Vidal Says:

    Thank you, Jeff and Lucy.
    I am from Brasil and I love your pod casts.
    This speech is exactly what I was looking for, and with your explanations included, it couldn´t have been better.
    Selma Vidal

  15. maykel maurice Says:

    a big THANKS from Alexandria Egypt………Dr Jeff and Dr lucy……….u r greatttttttttttttt…thanks again!!

  16. TIAN ping Says:

    Jeff

    Thank you, it’s so helpful and useful.

    From Beijing,China
    TIAN

  17. Aidan Says:

    Hi Dr jeff and Dr Lucy

    I have found your website by the chance when I was surfing the net, you have got me hooked. this is a great place to learn English. all the vocabulary that you have explained in ESLpod make it easy for me to digest. I couldn’t agree more with all the comment that has been giving to you. you have done a great job for us who trying to improve our learing of English. Thanks you so much

    Aidan from Germany

  18. karna Says:

    Hey ur sooooooo cool!!! i was in love with your speech that day! Im just in love with your speech!

  19. Eileen Says:

    Thank you for being so patient

  20. Chanmonchannon Says:

    It’s very useful for not only all English learners but also the media.
    Thanks so much for explanation.
    Please continue such a helpful job.

    -With many thanks
    Chanmonchannon

  21. Le Huong Says:

    Obama’s work is great. Thank you for your guide!

  22. Ilona Says:

    Oh, Jeff, very good job… thx :-))

  23. H?ng Nhung Says:

    I really respect the President and now I get your explanation. It is exactly what I’ve been looking for. Thanks very much for your help and wish you keeping all of your enthusiam to continue your job.
    P/s: now i also can use those poetic language for my essays so thanks again :)

    Hong Nhung, Vietnam.

  24. Simon G. Says:

    Hi Jeff,
    Exceptional explanation! Thank you for your great work.
    Best wishes,
    Simon

  25. Catherine Says:

    Hello Jeff! I’m grateful to you for a detailed explanation since it significantly simplified my task. Looks like you’ve already taken up Obama’s call for hard work, selflessness etc. :)
    Wish you new successes.

    From Russia with love,

  26. Sandy Wu from Taiwan Says:

    Dear,

    My teacher toook
    it as our first lesoon of reading class
    Also, it will be a big part in our midtern
    exam, so I wish that whoever next USA
    presidnt is, (S)He could make it shorter
    next time.

    It is really helpful. thank a million!

  27. Sandy Taiwan Says:

    Dear Friend.

    It is really helpful, thanks a million!!!