Obama begins inaugural train ride to Washington, DC
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Today is the day when the inaugural festivities really began as Obama and his wife Michelle set out on the same route that Abraham Lincoln took nearly 150 years ago traveling from Philadelphia to Washington, DC.
(Although to be accurate, Lincoln began his travels in Springfield, Illinois. But he eventually traveled from Philly to DC, so this is kind of an abbreviated trip).
The train, the train
Their method of travel? Of course Joe Biden's favorite, the train.
And not just any train. This is the "Georgia 300". Built in 1939, this is the same train that carried Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton to DC. The car has two living rooms, a dining area, and a kitchen.
If there's one town where people are in a celebratory mood, it's Philadelphia. Not only did the Phillies win the World Series, but the Eagles are in the NFL Championship game tomorrow (although that's in Arizona).
The president-elect kicked off the historic train ride speaking at Philadelphia's 30th street train station.
His remarks are below:
We are here to mark the beginning of our journey to Washington. This is fitting because it was here, in this city, that our American journey began. It was here that a group of farmers and lawyers, merchants and soldiers, gathered to declare their independence and lay claim to a destiny that they were being denied.
It was a risky thing, meeting as they did in that summer of 1776. There was no guarantee that their fragile experiment would find success. More than once in those early years did the odds seem insurmountable. More than once did the fishermen, laborers, and craftsmen who called themselves an army face the prospect of defeat.
And yet, they were willing to put all they were and all they had on the line - their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor - for a set of ideals that continue to light the world. That we are equal. That our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness come not from our laws, but from our maker. And that a government of, by, and for the people can endure. It was these ideals that led us to declare independence, and craft our constitution, producing documents that were imperfect but had within them, like our nation itself, the capacity to be made more perfect.
We are here today not simply to pay tribute to our first patriots but to take up the work that they began. The trials we face are very different now, but severe in their own right. Only a handful of times in our history has a generation been confronted with challenges so vast. An economy that is faltering. Two wars, one that needs to be ended responsibly, one that needs to be waged wisely. A planet that is warming from our unsustainable dependence on oil.
And yet while our problems may be new, what is required to overcome them is not. What is required is the same perseverance and idealism that our founders displayed. What is required is a new declaration of independence, not just in our nation, but in our own lives - from ideology and small thinking, prejudice and bigotry - an appeal not to our easy instincts but to our better angels.
That is the reason I launched my campaign for the presidency nearly two years ago. I did so in the belief that the most fundamental American ideal, that a better life is in store for all those willing to work for it, was slipping out of reach. That Washington was serving the interests of the few, not the many. And that our politics had grown too small for the scale of the challenges we faced.