I recently had a discussion whether Barack Obama had become president at noon Jan. 20, even though he had yet to take the oath. The argument I heard was that because of the 20th Amendment, the "oath of office" was now a symbolic gesture and not legally required as stated in Article II of the Constitution.
It doesn't surprise me at all that this argument is being made. The framers of the Constitution wanted to make sure that the office of president could in no way be confused with the birthright of a monarchy. The "oath of office" was used and required for one reason. The president, by taking the oath, was giving his most prized possession, his "word." That was his guarantee that he would perform his duties as required by the Constitution.
The duty of defending this country is the most important role that the president has. President Bush not only did his duty -- he did it in a way that defended the oath he took and by extension, his word. For that, I thank you, Mr. President. And I thank you for reminding us what a man's word was worth a long time ago.