Instead of desecrating the halls of our Capitol,
Let us, on this Inauguration Day, consecrate our democracy,
Rededicate ourselves to the proposition that all are created equal
And that government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the Earth.
In letting go of the lies, and discovering what lies ahead for us, together.
Let us be friends, not enemies, with malice toward none and charity for all, as Lincoln said.
Let America be America again, the land that never has been yet, and yet must be, as Hughes said.
Then not that we do more, or stop pity, but that we be wider in living, that all our cities fly a clean flag, as Patchen said.
That we not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred but forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline, that we not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. That we rise, again and again, to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. That we come to realize that your destiny is tied up with our destiny, and that your freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. That we cannot walk alone. And that this nation can still rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed, as King said.
In letting go of our racism and divisions.
Let us be brothers and sisters, one family, one community, one nation.
Let us make America greater than it has ever been.
In welcoming a new president who will be a president for everyone, not just for those who voted for him. In making the government meet your needs as well as ours.
Let us vanquish this pandemic once and for all and revive this economy, making it work for all. Healing the gulf of economic inequality that causes so much needless suffering.
In believing in government again, that it can be a force for good and help make life better for all of us, not just for some.
In letting go of our grievances and meeting one another face to face, extending an open hand, lending an eager hand in reconstituting this Constitution, to make our union more and more — and ever more — perfect.
In banishing the hatreds and grudges that have torn this nation apart for too long.
Forgive us, as we forgive you, for injuries, real and imagined.
Let us begin anew, right now, to start afresh, a clean slate, and be a better people, represented by a better government, one that tells the truth and makes life better for everyone.
In being so much stronger together than we can ever be apart.
Let us show the world that democracy is resilient, that we can come together, that we can repair the breach. That we can repair the bridges, physical and spiritual, that have collapsed. Bridges that must be built, and rebuilt, from both sides.
Let us set an example that our dream of democracy is tested and tough, that the soul of this nation may be contested, but never violently, only through respectful dialogue.
In admitting our mistakes and atoning for them. Let us become a better nation by becoming better people.
Let us show one another only the better angels of our nature. We have seen our lesser angels dominate for too long. We are capable of more. We can do better.
In re-joining the U.S., making these states united again — maybe for the first time.
In finding our common ground and defending the common good, recognizing that we are fellow citizens, not antagonists, and certainly not combatants.
In creating the “beloved community” that King dreamed of and that Lewis and so many others marched for.
Free from want, free from fear, as FDR said.
We have been at each other’s throats too long.
In recognizing each other’s humanity, in not assuming the worst about those with whom we disagree.
In following the example of a president, inaugurated today, who models decency, honesty, and commitment to our best interests.
Let us give his administration a chance to improve our lives.
Let’s come together.
Let’s come back, as God says in a poem by Rilke, to the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.
Give me your hand.