Barack Obama’s inauguration speech

January 20, 2009

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.

我们处于危机之中,现在这一点已得到充分认识。我国在进行战争,打击分布广泛的暴力和仇恨势力。我们的经济严重衰弱,部分原因归咎于一些人的贪婪不轨,同时也因为我们作为一个整体,未能痛下决心,让国家作好面对新时代的准备。如今,家园不再,就业减少,商业破产。医疗保健费用过度昂贵; 学校质量没有保障; 而每一天都在不断显示,我们使用能源的方式在助长敌人的威风,威胁我们的星球。

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.

在重申我们国家伟大的同时,我们懂得,伟大从非天生,而是必须赢得。我们的历程从来不是走捷径或退而求其次的历程。它不是弱者的道路——它不属于好逸恶劳或只图名利享受的人; 而属于冒险者,实干家,创造者——有些人享有盛名,但大多数是默默无闻耕耘劳作的人们,是他们带我们走向通往繁荣和自由的漫长崎岖之路。

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.

回顾过去,几代人在战胜法西斯主义和共产主义时依靠的不仅仅是导弹和坦克,更是牢固的联盟和不渝的信念。他们懂得单凭我们的权力无法保护我们的安全,也并不赋予我们随心所欲的权利。相反,他们知道审慎使用权力会使我们更强大; 我们的安全源于事业的正义性、典范的感召力、以及谦卑和克制的平衡作用。

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.


我们将与多年的朋友和昔日的对手一起不懈地努力,减轻核威胁,扭转全球变暖的厄运。我们不会在价值观念上退缩,也不会动摇捍卫它的决心,对于那些妄图以煽动恐怖和屠杀无辜的手段达到其目的的人,我们现在就告诉你们,我们的意志更加顽强、坚不可摧; 你们无法拖垮我们,我们必将战胜你们。

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.

因为我们知道,我们百衲而成的传统是一种优势,而不是劣势。我们是一个由基督教徒和穆斯林、犹太教徒和印度教徒、以及无宗教信仰者组成的国家。我们受惠于地球上四面八方每一种语言和文化的影响。由于我们饮过南北战争和种族隔离的苦水,走出了那个黑暗时代并变得更加坚强和团结,我们不能不相信昔日的仇恨终有一天会成为过去; 部族之间的界线很快会消失; 随着世界变得越来越小,我们共同的人性将得到彰显; 美国必须为迎来一个和平的新纪元发挥自己的作用。

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.


对于那些依靠腐败、欺骗、压制不同意见等手段固守权势的人,我们提醒你们:你们站在了历史错误的一边; 但只要你们放弃压迫,我们将伸手相助。

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.

对于贫困国家的人民,我们保证同你们并肩努力,为你们的农田带来丰收,让清洁的用水取之不竭; 使饥饿的身体得以饱食,使饥渴的心灵受到滋润。对于那些像我们一样比较富裕的国家,我们要说我们再不能对他人的苦难无动于衷,也再不能肆意消耗世界的资源。世界已经改变,我们必须与时俱进。

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.

我们面临的挑战可能前所未闻。我们迎接挑战的方式也可能前所未有。然而,我们赖以成功的价值观──诚实和勤奋、勇气和公平、宽容心和探索精神、忠诚和爱国 ──均由来以久。这些价值观都是千真万确的。这些价值观是我国整个历史过程中一股无声的进步力量。


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.

美利坚,在我们面临共同危难之际,在我们遇到艰难险阻的冬日,让我们牢记这些永恒的话语。心怀希望和美德,让我们再一次迎着寒风中流砥柱,不论什么风暴来袭,必将坚不可摧。今后,让我们的后代子孙如此评说:我们在遇到考验的时候没有半途而废,没有退缩不前,也没有丝毫动摇; 让我们全神贯注于前方的目标,感谢上帝对我们的恩典,继承自由这个宝贵的传统,世代相传,永志不忘。

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