Mon, Jan 24, 2005 - Page 9 News List

Two Bush inaugural speeches reflect two almost entirely different worlds

DPA , Washington

Few direct comparisons can be made between US President George W. Bush's inaugural speech Thursday and his first in 2001, but there is one overwhelming similarity: They both reflected their times, very different times.

The president's speech four years ago touched on a variety of issues: education, equal rights, social security and defense. There were no surprises and no overwhelming theme, which was in line with the general tone in America as Bush first took office.

In Bush's second inaugural speech, he referred to the times between the fall of communism and the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the US as "years of relative quiet, years of repose, years of sabbatical."

"And then there came a day of fire," he said.

Since the first inaugural speech, the US has experienced the worst attack on its soil in history, economic recession and a costly and controversial war in Iraq.

These historic and devastating events during Bush's first term culminated in what became the overarching call in his second inaugural speech -- the need for everyone in the world to be free.

"The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands," he said Thursday. "The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world."

"There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment ... and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom," he added.

Despite the very different tone in the US since January 2001, direct parallels can be made between the two inaugural speeches.

During Bush's first inaugural address, he also referred a number of times to the important cause of freedom.

"If our country does not lead the cause of freedom, it will not be led," he said in 2001. "... We will meet aggression and bad faith with resolve and strength. And to all nations, we will speak for the values that gave our nation birth."

He also spoke of the danger of weapons of mass destruction and building the US military, "lest weakness invite challenge."

The danger of weapons of mass destruction and the importance of US defense took on new meaning after Sept. 11, 2001.

Like he did four years ago, Bush also touched Thursday on the familiar domestic issues of education, equal rights and the need to reform the Social Security retirement program.

"To give every American a stake in the promise and future of our country, we will bring the highest standards to our schools and build an ownership society," he said. "We will widen the ownership of homes and businesses, retirement savings and health insurance, preparing our people for the challenges of life in a free society."

However, Bush continually returned Thursday to his focus on the spread of freedom.

"By our efforts, we have lit a fire as well, a fire in the minds of men," he said. "And one day, this untamed fire of freedom will reach the darkest corners of our world."

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