WASHINGTON, D.C. — Amid a sunny sky and a socially distanced crowd of around 1,000 people, history was made Wednesday as Joseph R. Biden, Jr. and Kamala D. Harris took the Oath of Office as President and Vice President of the United States.
Biden, the nation’s 46th president, is the oldest man to take the presidential office. He is also only the second Catholic president to take the helm after John F. Kennedy. Kamala Harris’ inauguration also marks multiple milestones, as she is the first woman elected to the office of vice president, as well as the first person of African American and Indian American descent.
Following musical performances by Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez, Biden addressed the nation in a call for cooperation and unity. “I know speaking of unity can sound like a foolish fantasy these days. I know the forces that divide us are deep and are real,” he emphasized. “But I also know they are not new. Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire destroying everything in its path. Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war.” Once more, the new president reiterated his promise to work on behalf of all Americans, whether or not they voted for him. The president’s inaugural address was followed by a performance from Garth Brooks and a benediction from Reverend Silvester Beaman of Bethel AME Church.
Former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton were present at the inauguration Wednesday morning; Jimmy Carter, age 96, stayed home due to the pandemic. Former Vice President Mike Pence was also in attendance, though Donald Trump chose to boycott his successor’s inauguration, instead leaving D.C. that morning for Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, where he held a going-away address for his supporters before returning to his home in Florida. Trump, without mentioning Biden by name, wished luck to the new administration and talked about his achievements during his term in office, vowing to be “back in some form” in the future.
After the events surrounding their inauguration, Biden and Harris participated in a Pass in Review on the East front with members of the military, signifying the peaceful transfer of power to a new Commander-in-Chief. They then visited Arlington National Cemetery where, along with former presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton, laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier before being escorted to the White House.