That was quite an inauguration with a number of historic firsts in his address to the nation. President Obama was the first president to explicitly reference gays and lesbians in an inauguration speech, noting Stonewall and equating the long struggle for equal rights with that of the Civil Rights Movement, by relating Stonewall to Seneca Falls and Selma. He also called on a gay Hispanic poet, Richard Blanco, whose very inclusive poem of America, One Today, which echoed that of Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself."
It was a very inclusive speech, repeatedly starting a passage with "We the people," as he reached out to the nation as a whole. He also repeatedly referenced the middle class and its shrinking economic base, noting.
"our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it. We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class."
He spoke of his administration's commitment to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, dispelling the foul notion that these are somehow emblematic of a "nation of takers," and that the strength of the country rests on its ability to assure the welfare of its people.
He also promoted sustainable energy, noting "America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it." Surprisingly enough, America still remains at the vanguard of sustainable energy with a great number of state-sponsored wind and solar farms, but Obama rightly is trying to promote a national initiative in the form of a meaningful energy bill that eluded him the first term.
The day was capped by a rousing rendition of the Star Spangled Banner by Beyonce, that had everyone smiling, especially Joe Biden. President Obama seemed to linger at the threshold of the Capitol building, taking in the enormous crowd that had gathered on the cold day.