‘I see a bright day coming for America'
By President George W. Bush
Today it will be my great honor to take the Presidential Oath of Office for the second time. I am humbled by the trust and confidence of my fellow citizens. With that trust comes a duty to serve all Americans, and I will do my best to fulfill that duty every day as president.
Four years ago, I came to Washington with a commitment to solve problems, instead of passing them on to future presidents and future generations. I have applied that principle to every decision I have made as president, and I am proud of what we have achieved.
We worked with Congress to provide historic tax relief for small businesses and families. Now our economy is strong and getting stronger. America has created more than 2 million jobs in the past year. Interest rates, mortgage rates and inflation are all low. And homeownership is at an all-time high.
We raised standards in public schools and insisted on accountability — and now children are making hopeful progress in reading and math. Parents have real options when schools fail to teach. And the achievement gap is beginning to close.
We strengthened and modernized Medicare — and now low-income seniors are getting money to buy prescription drugs. Medicare now covers preventive screenings and offers a free physical for every new enrollee. And next year, the program will offer prescription drug coverage to every American senior.
These accomplishments met essential priorities, and they have made America stronger for future generations. Yet our greatest duties have been those that our country could not have envisioned on Inauguration Day four years ago.
The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, brought grief to our nation and changed the course of history. Since that morning, America has rallied many nations to our side and fought the terrorists abroad so that we do not have to face them here at home. We have brought our enemies to justice. We have removed terror regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. And we are working with nations around the world to ensure that the world's deadliest weapons never reach terrorist hands.
We are winning the war on terror because of the courage, idealism and sacrifice of our military, intelligence and homeland security personnel. They are making America safer and the world more peaceful. And our whole nation is grateful to them and their families.
In this new war, the wisest use of American strength is to advance freedom. America is more secure because millions of men and women in Afghanistan lined up to vote in a free election — the first in that nation's 5,000-year existence and a landmark event in the history of liberty. America is more secure because free Iraqis will soon choose their own leaders. Freedom is on the march, and it is changing the world.
One lesson of history is that free societies do not export terror. Free governments respect the aspiration of their citizens and serve their hope for a better life. Free nations are peaceful nations. For the sake of our interests and our ideals, this great republic will always lead the cause of freedom.
We are also working to expand freedom here at home. Over the next four years, we will ease the burden of the complicated tax code by making it simpler and fairer. We will protect entrepreneurs and workers from frivolous lawsuits and needless regulation. We will make health care more affordable and accessible for American families. We will continue the work of education reform, especially in our public high schools. And we will work to strengthen Social Security for our children and grandchildren.
These are large goals. They will affect every American, and they do not belong to one politician or one party. Inaugurations are a time to leave behind the partisan debates of a political year and focus on the opportunities that lie ahead. Working together, we can achieve important results and lay the foundation for a stronger, more prosperous country.
In this time of change, some things do not change: the values we try to live by, the institutions that give our lives meaning and purpose. America is stronger because of the volunteer groups and faith-based charities that provide a safety net of mercy and compassion. In our kind and decent society, we have a special duty to protect the weak and the vulnerable. So I will continue to lead this good-hearted nation toward a culture of life.
For all Americans, these years in our history will always stand apart. There are quiet times in the life of a nation when little is expected of its leaders or its people. This is not one of those times. This is a time that requires firm resolve, clear vision and the deep faith in the values that make our nation strong.
I am optimistic about the future of our country. One of my favorite sayings comes from Tom Lea, an artist Laura and I knew in Texas. Tom wrote: “Sara and I live on the east side of the mountain. It is the sunrise side, not the sunset side. It is the side to see the day that is coming, not the side to see the day that is gone.” I see a bright day coming for America. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve this great nation, and I am eager for the work ahead.
May God continue to bless America and all who call it home.