WASHINGTON (CNN) - A little more than two hours after taking the oath of office Tuesday, President Barack Obama called on lawmakers to reflect "what we know are in the hearts of the American people."
In brief remarks at a congressional luncheon, the new president echoed his campaign theme, saying, "What's happening today is not about me. It is about the American people. They understand that we have arrived at a moment of great challenge for our nation, a time of peril, but also extraordinary promise.
"And by being here today, and by participating in innumerable ways across cities and small towns, and suburbs all across the country, they are demonstrating the readiness to answer history's call, and to step up and give back and take responsibility for serving the common purpose of remaking our nation."
Americans, Obama said, "have come together across races and regions and stations. Now we have to do the same. Now it falls to us, the people's representatives, to give our fullest measure of devotion to the cause of freedom and liberty and justice, decency, and dignity. And our chambers should reflect what we know are in the hearts of the American people."
He called on the crowd to "rededicate ourselves to fulfilling the sacred charge the American people have given to us. I'd like all of us to come together with a sense of purpose and civility and urgency."
While there will be disagreements, "and I assure you our administration will make mistakes," Obama said, Americans expect "a sense not of simply our trying to advance our own aims but trying to advance theirs. And I'm confident we can do so."
Obama began by saying his prayers were with Sen. Ted Kennedy, who collapsed at the luncheon in the Capitol's Statuary Hall while Obama was out of the room. A hospital spokeswoman later said Kennedy was alert and talking to family members.
Ending his brief remarks, Obama told the crowd, "Thank you all for this great honor, and I look forward to working with you in the years to come."