Inauguration 2021

Noor Baber and Andrew Kang

On Jan. 20, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States, and Kamala Devi Harris took the position of the 49th Vice President. 

This year’s inauguration was quite different from previous presidential inaugurations. Coronavirus safety precautions were of the highest priority during the event, and attendees were kept socially distanced. In addition, spectators were not allowed to attend the inauguration. According to NPR, this was due to the riots that occurred at the Capitol on Jan. 6— thousands of National Guard troops were stationed in Washington, and the capital was put on lockdown. Likewise, there were no additional in-person celebrations after the inauguration. 

Furthermore, former President Trump did not attend the ceremony, although it is tradition for a President to attend their successor’s inauguration. Instead, the now-former President and First Lady left the White House on the morning of Jan. 20, arriving at their Mar-a-Lago Resort in Florida at about 11 a.m.— an hour before President Biden was sworn in. Former Vice President Mike Pence, however, attended the inauguration rather than the former president’s goodbye ceremony. 

Senator Amy Klobuchar started the inauguration by welcoming attendees. Senator Klobuchar emphasized “what a blessing and privilege it is to witness this moment”, using the Capitol riots as an example of how America has to and will rise from the ashes. To finish her speech, Senator Klobuchar congratulated Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on their election victories.

Next, Senator Roy Blunt thanked the Joint Committee staff for handling the Capitol riots on Jan. 6. Senator Blunt highlighted the “commonplace” and “miraculous” nature of the inauguration to reflect how resilient the nation is for attending the ceremony during the pandemic. 

Reverend Leo O’Donovan was the next speaker to address the crowd, and he described the state of the union as “on its knees.”  Reverend O’Donovan led attendees in prayer, underlining the importance of unity and “dreaming together.”

Lady Gaga, along with the United States Marine band, performed the national anthem.

The next performer was Andrea Hall, the Captain of the South Fulton, Georgia Fire and Rescue Department, and the President of the International Association of Firefighters. Captain Hall recited the Pledge of Allegiance, whilst also signing it in American Sign Language.

Next, history was made, as the Vice President-elect, Kamala Harris, was sworn in. Vice President Harris is the first woman, and the first woman of color to serve in the White House. Harris was sworn into office by Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first woman of color to serve on the Supreme Court. 

After Vice President Harris was sworn in, Jennifer Lopez sang “This Land is Your Land” and “America the Beautiful.” 

Next, Joe Biden was sworn into office by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts. President Biden then delivered his inaugural address. The President thanked congressional leaders for attending, stating that “We have learned again that democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile. And at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.” He promised that “We will press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do in this winter of peril and possibility.” President Biden also led a moment of silence for the more than 441,000 Americans who have died during the pandemic. 

  Following President Biden’s inaugural speech, country singer Garth Brooks performed  “Amazing Grace.”

Next was Amanda Gorman, the only American National Youth Poet Laureate, and the youngest person to ever deliver the inaugural poem. In her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” Gorman called for unity and healing, declaring, “We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another.” She indirectly acknowledged the events that took place at the Capitol on Jan. 6, saying, “Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.” Gorman ended her poem on a hopeful note— “The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

The Rev. Dr. Silvester Beaman, the pastor at the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Delaware, concluded the inauguration by leading the crowd in prayer.

After the inauguration, a series of virtual events took place. According to PBS, the “Parade Across America” spotlighted performances from all around the country, as well as performances from the drumlines of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’s alma maters. The next virtual event, “Celebrating America” was hosted by Tom Hanks, bringing together a lineup of ordinary Americans and popular singers and musicians.

Overall, the inauguration was a historic event. As President Biden begins his term in office, The Paw Print looks forward to seeing what the President accomplishes in the future.