WASHINGTON — On early Tuesday afternoon, 20st Jan 2009, Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States of America, making him the first African-American President in the history of the country.
A historic number of crowd gathered in Capitol Hill, Washington, to witness this momentous ocassion. For in the words of the President Obama himself, it seemed inconceivable that “a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.”
Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., swearing in a new President for the first time, initially stumbled over the Oath, causing President Obama to pause and then repeating the words slightly out of order.
Obama’s inauguration speech drew worldwide praise.
“Today, I say to you that the challenges we face are real,” Obama said in his inaugural speech, from the west front of the Capitol. “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.”
Almost immediately after taking office, President Obama ordered an immediate freezing of all Bush administration regulations for a legal and policy review. Several important nomination papers were signed for his cabinet and the Senate confirmed the nominees.
Despite the inauguration ceremony happening early Wednesday morning, many students stayed up to witness this historic moment. Lim, 24, a third-year Economics major who had just spent a semester on academic exchange in Illinois, was one of them.
“I had the excellent opportunity to witness Obama’s victory in the Presidential elections up close in Chicago,” he said. “Many of the students on campus were equally electrified,” Asked about how the elections were different than those in Singapore, he added: “My room-mates who were eligible to vote considered it their primary civic duty to be well-informed about the policy decisions that each respective candidate would embark on if they were elected,”
“Some even had to spend a day or two alone just to carefully deliberate on their candidate choices,”
President Obama’s tenure begins in a tumultuous period of time, where financial markets globally are in an upheaval, and many other countries are looking for a direction out of this turmoil. “Know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity,” the President mentioned in his inaugural address. “And that we are ready to lead once more.”
Lead America must. Just today, Singapore revised its GDP estimates from -2% to 1% to a substantial deficit of -5%. Talk is rife about the country dipping into her once untouchable reserves. Economists are suggesting that this may be the most difficult recession that Singapore will ever face in her short history, surpassing that of the 1998 Asian economic crisis. Up to 1/3 of local graduates this summer are expected to struggle in the bleak job market, caught in the middle of a global economic downturn.
Yet more often than not, heros are made in the battlefield in the stormiest of times. History will remain to judge if the Obama administration’s policies are effectively the answers we need. For now, the jury is still out.