It seemed to have been an extremely long time in coming. Although they were convincingly elected by a majority of over 6 million American voters on November 3, 2020, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala harris endured weeks of tension and drama amidst false allegations of election fraud.
Most sadly for the United States, they had to endure attempts of a mob insurrection on the US Capitol Building as the US Congress met to certify their 307 electoral college votes.
But, finally, at noon on January 20, they both took the oath of office with Biden becoming the 46th president of the United States of America and Kamala Harris, the 49th vice president, and the first African-Caribbean-Asian-American and the first woman to hold that post.
The inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, who succeeds former President Donald J. Trump, the first president not to attend the inauguration of his successor having departed for his home in MaraLago earlier on January 20, and former Vice-President Mike Pence, took place among an unusual backdrop.
Instead of thousands of people traditionally crowded in the National Mall, because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there were represented by some 200,00o large American flags, blowing in the cold Washington DC air.
And, the perimeter of the Capitol building was secured by the historical presence of thousands of military personnel placed there in response to ongoing threats following the attempted January 6 insurrection.
Biden was sworn in as president by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and Harris by the first Latino justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
Vice President Harris was first sworn in, standing beside her husband Douglas Emhoff. After singer Lady Gaga gave an impressive rendition of the national anthem, and actress and singer Jennifer Lopez sang “America The Beautiful”, Biden was sworn in with his wife Jill at his side, his hand on his family Bible as he took the oath of office.
In his inaugural speech, President Joe Biden stressed a theme of unity, calling for every American to join in working with him to realize a more unified nation. Referring to the divisions across the country he said, “We have much to repair restore, much to heal…. America, we are better than this…..Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for war. We need to work together to succeed as one nation.”
He promised to be a president for “all America,” the president of those who voted for him and those who did not vote for him. “I will always level with you,” he said.
“And together we shall write an American story of hope, not fear, of unity, not division. Of light, not darkness. A story of decency and dignity, love and healing, greatness and goodness,” he said.
Referring to the failed coup, he said such an attempt will never succeed in America “not yesterday, not tomorrow, not ever.”
Addressing America’s foreign partners, he a pledge to “repair our alliances and engage with the world once again.”
And in reference to the COVID-19 pandemic, he said, “Together we will get through this. We will.” In the midst of his address, he called for one minute of silent prayer for the over 400,000 Americans who have died as a result of the coronavirus.
He ended on a message for Americans, saying that they met the moment.
“May this be the story that guides us, the story that inspires and the stories that tell ages yet to come that we answered the call of history. We met the moment, democracy and hope, truth and justice did not die on our watch but thrived, that 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. With purpose and resolve, we turn to those tasks of our time, sustained by faith, driven by conviction and devoted to one another and the country we love with all hearts,” Biden said.
Also performing at the inauguration was popular country singer Garth Brooks who gave a rendition of the hymn “Amazing Grace.”
America’s youngest poet laureate Amanda Gorman, 22, eloquently read a passionate poem she composed and concluded on January 6 after the mob descended on the Capitol Building.
The incident was reflected in an excerpt of her poem which read “We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will become the future…..We will rebuild, reconcile and recover.”