Barack Obama took the oath of office to become the first black president in U.S. history Tuesday, witnessed by huge crowds in an unprecedented endorsement of a new leader. (UPDATED)
Obama promised a fresh start with the Muslim world in his first speech as 44th president of the United States during his historic inauguration on Tuesday.
"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 societys ills on the West -- know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy," said Obama.
Obama's remarks were aimed to address one of the most urgent challenges that the new administration, who was elected with the promise of change, faces. The U.S. drew fierce reaction from the Muslim world after the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
He also vowed to responsibly pull U.S. forces out of Iraq and forge peace in Afghanistan, while reiterating a pledge to find a new way forward in relations with the Muslim world.
But he warned that those who wage terrorism around the world that America's resolve remained strong.
"We say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken. You cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you."
BOLD ACTION PROMISED
He promised bold, swift action to meet what he called the crisis of two wars and a badly weakened economy, adding the challenges the U.S. faces are real, serious and many.
"They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America -- they will be met," he said in the speech delivered from the steps of the U.S. Capitol building.
Obama said the economic crisis buffeting the country was the result of "greed and irresponsibility on the part of some" and promised to keep a watchful eye to ensure that the market did not spin out of control.
"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," he said.
Starting today, the country should begin again the work of remaking America, the U.S. president added.
Obama took the oath of office from Chief Justice John Roberts, resting his left hand on Abraham Lincoln's Bible and raising his right hand to deliver the words that formally made him the successor to President George W. Bush.
"I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear that I will execute the office of President of the United States faithfully and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, so help me God," said Obama, the 44th U.S. president, sparking a massive roar from the crowd.
Before Obama, vice president-elect, Joe Biden was also sworn in by Roberts.
Conservative pastor Rick Warren gave the invocation.
Sen. Diane Feinstein, the chairperson of the Joint Inaugurational Committee, said that people will remember this day "as the turning point for real and necessary change for our nation."
At least 2 million people filled the National Mall to watch Obama be sworn in as the new president, a senior security official told The Washington Post.
Former presidents George Bush, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton were seated on the platform at the U.S. Capitol building for the inauguration, while Bush and his successor arrive together for the historic ceremony.
Thousands of spectators lined the route cheering the motorcade that carried Bush and Obama from the White House, where the outgoing president had hosted the Obamas and Bidens for coffee.
HUGE SECURITY MEASURES
The huge security presence was evident along the way, with a line of officers standing in front of the spectators.
Keeping with a White House ritual, Bush left a note for Obama in his desk in the Oval Office, wishing him well as he takes the reins of power.
"I wont provide any details, but the theme is similar to what hes said since election night about the fabulous new chapter President-elect Obama is about to start, and that he wishes him the very best," outgoing White House press secretary Dana Perino was quoted by AP as saying Tuesday.
Perino said the two-term Republican incumbent wrote the message to his Democratic successor on Monday and left it in the top drawer of his desk, which was crafted from timbers from the H.M.S. Resolute and given to the U.S. by Great Britain in 1879.
Following the ceremony, Bush left Capitol by helicopter for Andrews Air Force base just outside Washington and from there head back to his native Texas aboard a U.S. Air Force jet.