World

Voices of the inauguration

A compilation of noteworthy quotes from U.S. President Barack Obama's inauguration.
Barack Obama, left, joined by his wife Michelle, takes the oath of office from Chief Justice John Roberts to become the 44th president of the United States at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Tuesday. ((Jae C. Hong/Associated Press))

As Barack Obama was sworn into office at noon on Monday, people around the world shared their thoughts and ideas on the historic occasion. Here's a look at some of the words spoken by world leaders, dignitaries, American citizens and Obama himself:


"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."

— Obama, excerpt from his inaugural speech


"Lord, in the memory of all the saints, who from their labours rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us pray for that day when black will not be asked to give back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead man, and when white will embrace what is right."

— Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, delivering the benediction at the inauguration


"We also send our warmest wishes to our American neighbours as they celebrate this historic day with their friends around the world .…The United States remains Canada's most important ally, closest friend and largest trading partner and I look forward to working with President Obama and his administration as we build on this special relationship."

— Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in a written statement


"Amongst many around the world, a sense of hopelessness had set in as so many problems remain unresolved and seemingly incapable of being resolved. You, Mr. President, have brought a new voice of hope that these problems can be addressed and that we can, in fact, change the world and make of it a better place."

— Former South African president Nelson Mandela, in a letter to Obama


"In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made. Any sentence begun, on the brink, on the brim, on the cusp. Praise song for walking forward in that light."

— Poet Elizabeth Alexander, reading her poem Praise Song for the Day at the inauguration


"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."

— Obama, excerpt from his inauguration speech


"A new page in the history of civilizations is being written before our very eyes, fulfilling the wishes of so many youths, women and men, from every background and every creed, to see our world become more just and more human. In these times, when the most fragile among us are threatened by an uncertain economy, by the folly of war and the tension born of prejudice, let us all rejoice in the wave of hope that is filling our hearts."

— Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean, speaking after Obama's inauguration ceremony


"Kenyans are very happy, because their son is going to be the leader of America." 

— Dr. Joseph Osoo, who runs a clinic in a Nairobi slum and followed the inauguration closely


"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."

— Obama, excerpt from his inauguration speech


"At a time when so many of our brothers and sisters throughout the world yearn for liberation from the scourge of poverty, hunger and violence, I pray that you will be confirmed in your resolve to promote understanding, co-operation and peace among the nations."

— Pope Benedict XVI, in a telegram to Obama


"The whole world is watching the inauguration of President Obama, witnessing a new chapter in both American history and the world's history. He's not only the first black American president, but he sets out with the determination to solve the world's problems."

— British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, speaking in London


"I've been real emotional all morning thinking about my grandmother and the heroes whose shoulders we stand on. They'd be so proud."

— Lyshundria Houston, who travelled 20 hours from Memphis, Tenn., to watch the inauguration ceremony in Washington.


"We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defence. 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."

— Obama, excerpt from his inauguration speech

With files from the Associated Press

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