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Just before noon (EST) on January 20, 2021, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. placed his hand on a 127-year-old family Bible, which has followed his entire career, and took the Presidential oath of office to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America." The inauguration ceremony of America's 46th President came just moments after Kamala D. Harris took her oath of office and became the first woman and first person of color to hold the country's second-highest office.
In his inaugural speech to the nation, President Biden outlined his vision to defeat the pandemic, build back better, and unify and heal the nation. “This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge," the leader said. "Unity is the path forward. And we must meet this moment as the United States of America. If we do that, I guarantee you we will not fail."
"Today at this time, let's start afresh all of us," the president continued. "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. We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue. Rural against urban, conservative against liberals."
President Biden's national address culminated the hour-long proceedings that began with an invocation prayer delivered by Reverend Leo O' Donovan and a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance by Andrea Hall — the first African American female captain of the Fire-Rescue Department in South Fulton, Georgia. The National Anthem was sung by none other than American singer, songwriter, and actress Lady Gaga.
While all were impressive, it was the nation's first youth poet laureate and the youngest-known inaugural poet, Amanda Gorman, who stole the show. The 22-year-old told the Associated Press that the poignant lyrics of her poem, “The Hill We Climb," aimed to deliver a message of hope without ignoring “the evidence of discord and division.” Jennifer Lopez provided a strong finish with a medley of patriotic songs that included "This Land is Your Land" and "America the Beautiful."
Following the swearing-in ceremony, President Biden and Vice President Harris and their spouses, made their way to the Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. President Biden and the First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden, were then escorted to the White House — their home for the next four years.
Though the inauguration of America's 46th Commander in Chief followed the usual tradition, it was like none other experienced before. Due to the security risks following the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol and the raging COVID-19 pandemic, there were no large crowds to greet the incoming leader at the National Mall. Tickets to the inauguration were also limited. Members of Congress, who are usually given a total of 200,000 tickets to distribute to constituents, were only allowed to bring one guest each.
The pandemic also caused the customary inaugural balls to be replaced with a 90-minute live television special. Called "Celebration America," it featured inspiring messages from President Biden and Vice President Harris, tributes to COVID-19 first responders, and performances by a slew of celebrities, including Justin Timberlake and John Legend. The evening's festivities ended with a spectacular fireworks show over the National Mall.
Resources: Wikipedia.org, theguardian.com, NBCwashington, CNN.com