On a crisp January day, at the appointed hour, the president put his hand on a bible and repeated the traditional oath.
Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who is undergoing treatment for thyroid cancer, administered the oath on the west front of the Capitol. Members of the U.S. Congress served as witnesses, along with a crowd of about one-hundred-thousand people gathered on the vast lawn that stretches from the Capitol to the Washington Monument.
Military gunners fired their cannons as Hail to the Chief was played, signaling the start of a new presidential term. To the cheers of his supporters and the applause of those who came just for a glimpse of history, George W. Bush moved to the podium to deliver his second inaugural address.
President Bush said, "I am grateful for the honor of this hour, mindful of the consequential times in which we live, and determined to fulfill the oath that I have sworn and you have witnessed."
One theme ran through the speech, the power of freedom. President Bush said America's vital interests and its deepest beliefs are now one.
President Bush said, "The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world."
The president spoke of his determination to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, and end tyranny.
President Bush said, "All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for liberty, we will stand with you."
Mr. Bush did not mention any country by name - not even Iraq, where U.S. forces ousted Saddam Hussein and elections for a general assembly will be held in 10 days.
Instead, the president spoke in philosophical terms about the need to promote freedom abroad, and liberty's true meaning for all Americans.
Mr. Bush said, "From the perspective of a single day, including this day of dedication, the issues and questions before our country are many. From the viewpoint of centuries, the questions that come to us are narrowed and few. Did our generation advance the cause of freedom? And did our character bring credit to that cause?"
Mr. Bush also reflected briefly on the events of the last four years. He spoke of a day of fire, a reference to the September 11th, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.
This was the first U.S. presidential inauguration since that day, and there was unprecedented security.
Thousands of law enforcement officers and military personnel were on duty, major streets were closed to regular traffic, and anyone wanting to get close to inaugural events had to pass special checkpoints.
Police also kept watch on groups of protesters who congregated in Washington during the inauguration. They said they wanted to have their voices heard as well, but there were no early signs of trouble from the demonstrators.