Among heightened security measures, an absent former President, and extensive precautions taken in light of an ongoing pandemic, history was made as President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were inaugurated on January 20th, 2021.
Though unfortunate circumstances made Biden and Harris’s first day in office unusual, their fulfillment of multiple milestones concerning diversity and representation in government shed a positive light on the unique event.
Vice President Kamala Harris became the first female woman of color, namely of Indian and Jamaican ancestry to fulfill her role, while President Joe Biden became only the second Catholic President in U.S. History as well as the oldest. Dr. Jill Biden became the first First Lady to hold a job outside of her government duties, while Doug Emhoff became the first Second Gentleman as well as the first second spouse of Jewish descent.
The inaugural proceedings began on January 19th, with Biden flying into Washington D.C., as is customary. The mountain of “firsts” accompanying the event began upon touchdown with Biden stepping off a chartered private jet instead of a military plane, a consequence of former President Trump’s unwillingness to supply Biden with a flight.
At 8 a.m. ET on January 20th, former President Trump departed from the White House, making a short speech at Joint Base Andrews before heading to Mar-a-Lago, Florida.
A couple of hours later Biden arrived at the Capitol building accompanied by Harris and their respective families. Biden greeted former President Obama while Harris and Obama exchanged a friendly fist-bump. Though it is customary for the current President to greet the President-elect, Trump was absent, though former Vice President Mike Pence chose to welcome the newly elected in good spirit.
As Biden and Harris were transferred into power, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders made a now famous fashion debut with his newly coined dadcore consisting of cozy, knitted mittens and a heavy beige coat to protect him from the unforgiving elements.
Shortly after Bernie’s fashion spotlight, Harris was sworn in with two bibles, the first of which she used when taking the oath of office as senator, while the second was a possession of late Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first Black member of the Supreme Court.
Next, Biden was sworn in on one family bible dating back to the 19th century. In his inaugural address, Biden assured fellow Americans that he would be a “president for all Americans” in a speech framed by weathered optimism.
Afterwards, multiple performances took place including Lady GaGa’s rendition of the national anthem along with Jennifer Lopez’s take on “This Land is Your Land” and “America the Beautiful.”
Arguably the most noteworthy, however, was Amanda Gorman, a 22 year-old poet laureate from Los Angeles, hand-picked by Dr. Jill Biden, reciting an original piece titled “The Hill We Climb.” Not only was she the youngest poet ever featured at an inauguration ceremony, she will forever be remembered for her illustrious piece that referenced a broken democracy and inspired hope.
“For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it,” said Gorman in conclusion of her renowned poem.
Next, Biden and Harris received congressional gifts and attended a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington to honor the Unknown soldier.
“What is your first job?” a CNN reporter asked Vice President Kamala Harris at the inaugural parade.
“Walking to work!” she said in response to the reporter’s question. Both she and Biden walked down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House where Biden “got straight to work” by signing a series of executive actions following the opening of Trump’s parting oval office letter, one of the few traditions adhered to on this sacred day by the former Commander-in-Chief.
To conclude the day’s events, Harris made her first remarks as Vice President, the theme of which was “American Inspiration.”
“We are bold, fearless and ambitious. We are undaunted, in our belief that we shall overcome, that we will rise up. This is American aspiration,” said Harris, in her first address to the American people.
Final performances by John Legend, the Foo Fighters, and Katy Perry commenced with a literal bang as fireworks lit the sky.
The 2021 inauguration, which required heightened security measures, was accomplished with minimal protest. At the New York capital, Albany, a single Trump supporter bore the sign “stop the steal” while at New Hampshire three times the number of protestors assembled, though the body count amounted to a measly three.
A new year, a new President, and soon, a new day. Tomorrow, the President and his cabinet will get to work. Only time can tell where and how the new administration will lead the now divided states of America.