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President Barack Obama challenged Americans to live up to the principles behind the nation’s founding during his second inaugural address, delivered Monday after taking a ceremonial oath of office.

“What makes us exceptional, what makes us America, is our allegiance to an ideal in a declaration made more than two centuries ago,” the president said. “History tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they have never been self-executing.”

Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts and Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, respectively, shortly before noon; Monday’s oath of office was ceremonial, following their formal, constitutionally-prescribed swearing-in on Sunday.

Former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter were among the dignitaries in attendance. Celebrities including Jay-Z, Beyonce Knowles and Eva Longoria joined government officials on the inaugural platform, and attendees were treated to performances by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir and James Taylor, among other artists.

Earlier in the day, Obama and the first family attended a service at St. John’s Episcopal Church — the “Church of the Presidents,” as it is sometimes known — just two blocks from the White House.

There, Dr. Luis Leon, the rector of the church, led a series of “prayers for the nation,” Washington Cardinal Donald Weurl led a Gospel reading, and an Alexandria, Va., rabbi offered a final blessing. Vice President Joe Biden and his wife also attended the service.

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