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A Modern Inauguration: From Historic Firsts to Overcoming Challenges

“On this January day, my whole soul is in this: Bringing America together, uniting our people, uniting our nation. And I ask every American to join me in this cause,” said President Joe Biden in his inauguration speech.

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States, and Kamala Harris, a former senator from California, became the first woman, the first African-American, and the first individual of  South Asian descent to become Vice President, on January 20th, 2021. 

Nonetheless, this Inauguration Day was significantly unique from prior years, to say the least, due to the ongoing pandemic and the attack on the Capitol a few weeks before. Due to Covid-19, only select personnel were permitted to attend the event, following CDC guidelines, in a socially distant manner, and wearing masks. In order to represent the 200,000 Americans that were unable to attend, flags were placed where the crowd would have normally stood. Furthermore, about 25,000 National Guard troops were deployed and a 7-foot fence had been placed around the complex of the U.S. Capitol Building due to previous tensions.

Despite these changes, the day’s festivities still went as planned, emphasizing a message of unity and resilience. Before the Bidens arrived at the Capitol, it was noted that President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden, attended mass with Democratic Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, the new Democratic Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, and Republican Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell. In and of itself, this showed Americans how it is time to heal and attempt to work with one another, despite different party affiliations. Among the guests were former presidents, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton––three generations of presidents, who came together in a message of bipartisanship. Former Vice President Mike Pence was also in attendance, despite former President Donald Trump departing the White House early that morning.

Live coverage of the inauguration began at around 10:30 AM, and at around 11:45 AM, Kamala Harris was sworn in as the first female Vice President, utilizing Thurgood Marshall’s Bible, and soon afterward, Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President, using his own family Bible. 

Biden subsequently gave his inaugural address, emphasizing how it was a time for Americans to come together, expressing how the country is facing difficult times, and unity is pivotal. He emphasized how, “we must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal, ” and expressed that Americans needed one another. Biden also mentioned the trials and obstacles that the United States was and still is undergoing, underlining the severity of the Coronavirus, in which the number of American lives that have been lost has surpassed the number of American casualties during World War II. Moreover, Biden finished his speech on an optimistic note, “together, we shall write an American story of hope, not fear. Of unity, not division, Of light, not darkness. An American story of decency and dignity. Of love and healing.” 

One of the highlights of the Inauguration was Amanda Gorman who became the youngest Inaugural poet in the United States at 22 years old. She recited her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” capturing the essence of America’s path forward, expressing, “Somehow we weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken but simply unfinished…There is always light if only we’re brave enough to see it if only we’re brave enough to be it.” 

Not to mention, Lady Gaga sang the national anthem, Jennifer Lopez sang “This Land is Your Land,” and Garth Brooks performed  “Amazing Grace.”

After the ceremony, Biden signed 17 executive actions, and later that night at around 8:30 PM, the “Celebrating America” concert was held, which featured performances by Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Justin Timberlake, and Katy Perry, to name a few. The socially distant concert finished off with a fireworks display, ending the historic night with a sense of hope, light, and optimism.

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