The 46th Presidential Inauguration


(Credit: Jim Watson/Getty Images/Hollywood Reporter)

Spandana Vagwala '22 and Anna Rose '22

2020 had a lot to bring to the table. A rising pandemic that persists to be a 2021 problem, uprisings surrounding racial disparities, the recent attack on the Capitol, and of course, a highly anticipated election season. After days of counting, on November 7th of 2020, various news sources including Associated Press, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, declared Joe Biden as President-Elect. The following two months consisted of unwavering re-count requests and legal efforts from former President Donald Trump. Such opposition to the election results from individuals around the United States led to an insurrection of the Capitol Building on January 6th of this year, just two weeks prior to the anticipated inauguration. After the event, senators, congressmen, and congresswomen were quick to reconvene and finish the electoral college vote affirmation after the counting was interrupted by rioters. A week later, House representatives gathered again to write an article of impeachment against President Trump under the terms of inciting the insurrection through his speech at the protest rally on the morning of January 6th. In the midst of a rough transition to Biden’s presidency and remaining feelings of opposition to the election results, the former President stated that he would not attend the inauguration, thus breaking the tradition of the peaceful, united passing along of the presidency.

The inauguration’s main theme focused on instilling hope for unity and peace in our nation. Senator Amy Klobuchar and Senator Roy Blunt gave speeches honoring the day as a moment of unification, and both emphasized the importance of coming together and encouraging civility among each other. The Reverend then offered words that asked Americans to dream together and build a future together. After Lady Gaga’s performance of the national anthem, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor swore in Vice President Kamala Harris, marking her as the first woman to be elected into national office and the first person of color to serve as vice president. To celebrate this moment, Jennifer Lopez sang a Spanish-English version of This Land is Your Land.

(Credit: AP Photos/Patrick Semansky, Pool)

Following the musical performances, Chief Justice John Roberts swore in Joe Biden as the forty-sixth president of the United States of America. Immediately following, Senator Klobuchar officially introduced Biden as the new president. He then gave a speech addressing many topics and hopes for the country’s future. He first addressed his election as president as a symbol of the democracy on which America was founded. He thanked previous presidents for attending the inauguration such as Obama and Clinton, and he gave a shout-out to Carter, whose health struggles prevented travel. 

 Biden then addressed the issues America continues to face. He discussed the coronavirus, political extremism, white supremacy,  and domestic terrorism — all problems that American must unite to defeat. Biden spoke of unity among the country as a necessary instrument in leading the United States forward. He encouraged the American people to treat every person with dignity and respect despite the division we face. He sparked hope as he traced the progress America made from women earning the right to vote and Martin Luther King Jr.’s Civil Rights successes — all the way to Kamala Harris as the first ever woman vice president. Biden then addressed those who did not support him in his campaign or in the election — asking them to hear him out. He conveyed his promise to be a president for all Americans, and he will fight as hard for those who did not support him as those who did. He expressed the necessity of truth in remaining united and opening our hearts to fellow Americans. Only then can we all face the pandemic together. He took a moment of silence to remember the four hundred thousand lives lost to COVID. Biden spoke of America on the world stage saying we must “lead with power of our example not the example of our power.” He told the people he will take action in battling systemic racism and climate change and making strides in healthcare for all. To conclude his speech he said:

“Before God and all of you I give you my word. I will always level with you. I will defend the Constitution. I will defend our democracy. I will defend America. I will give my all in your service thinking not of power, but of possibilities. Not of personal interest, but of the public good. And 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 of healing. Of greatness and of goodness. May this be the story that guides us. The story that inspires us. The story that tells ages yet to come that we answered the call of history. We met the moment. That democracy and hope, truth and justice, did not die on our watch but thrived. That our America secured liberty at home and stood once again as a beacon to the world. That is what we owe our forebearers, one another, and generations to follow. So, with purpose and resolve we turn to the tasks of our time. Sustained by faith. Driven by conviction. And, devoted to one another and to this country we love with all our hearts.”

(Credit: Patrick Semansky/Pool via Reuters)

Following Biden’s speech, Amanda Gorman, the nation’s first ever youth poet laureate, came onto stage to read her poem, The Hill We Climb. Gorman’s poem is packed with Broadway Musical Hamilton references and messages of justice and unity, for which she has earned significant praise. She reminded the audience that “we, as a nation, must commit to all colors, conditions, and characters of man in order to put our differences aside and to do so, we must be brave.” Both Biden and Gorman addressed the insurrection of the Capitol and firmly delivered the message that democracy will always prevail. Gorman recited: “We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it, Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. And this effort very nearly succeeded. But while democracy can be periodically delayed, It can never be permanently defeated.” After Gorman left the stage, Reverend Silvester Beaman, a long-time friend of Biden’s from Delaware, gave the Benediction. Like the other speakers from the event, Reverend Beaman retold the stories of those who were and are discriminated against in the country but transitioned into looking on the bright side of the stories and asked America to “make friends of our enemies.” This ended the Inaugural Ceremony, as President Biden and Vice President Harris’s families exited the Capitol among other guests such as the Obamas and the Clintons to first honor the sacrifices of soldiers buried at Arlington Cemetery and then to move into their new homes in DC – the White House for the President and a home on the grounds of the US Navy Observatory for the Vice President.

(Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images via WAMU)

In years past, the Presidential Inaugural Committee holds a ball to celebrate the new president’s swearing in. This year, due to the pandemic, a virtual event named Celebrating America was held instead. The event was hosted by Tom Hanks and performances by Bon Jovi, Bruce Springstein, Justin Timberlake, John Legend, Katy Perry, Demi Lovato and more were featured. Biden gave a brief speech on the Lincoln Memorial reiterating his words from earlier in the day. Vice President Harris also gave a speech speaking of the shoulders of those who came before. She expressed that the administration would fight for racial justice and equal rights for women. The event also displayed a conversation between former presidents, Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton who expressed their optimism for Biden’s term and preached words of wisdom and offered ongoing support to President Biden.

Biden’s first few days as our new President have been busy. He has issued a mask mandate on federal property and signed multiple executive orders on his first day. Biden rejoined the Paris Climate Accord, revoked President Trump’s Muslim travel ban, continued the pause for student loan payments, ended the Keystone XL pipeline to revoke oil and gas development, defended the “Dreamers” program for undocumented young Americans, strengthened workplace discrimination based on race and gender, decided to count non US citizens in the census, and more. The nation awaits the first 100 days of President Biden’s term to get a better understanding of what his presidency will entail. We hope that, along with pressing issues such as the pandemic and climate change, Biden and Harris are able to sow threads of unity in our nation and repair the political divide we are currently undergoing. 

(Credit: Evan Vucci/AP Photos via CBS News)

Spandana Vagwala ’22, Co-Assistant Editor-in-Chief & Anna Rose ’22, Staff Writer,