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Inauguration of Joe Biden

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Presidential inauguration of
Joe Biden
Biden oath of office.jpg
DateJanuary 20, 2021; 3 days ago (2021-01-20)
LocationUnited States Capitol,
Washington, D.C.
Organized byJoint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, Inaugural Committee
ParticipantsJoe Biden
46th President of the United States
— Assuming office

John Roberts
Chief Justice of the United States
— Administering oath

Kamala Harris
49th Vice President of the United States
— Assuming office

Sonia Sotomayor
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
— Administering oath
Inaugurational Seal of Joe Biden.svg
2017
Joe Biden 2013.jpg
This article is part of
a series about
Joe Biden
Incumbent




Vice President of the United States




Published works

Joe Biden's signature

The inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States took place on January 20, 2021, before noon (EST), marking the commencement of the four-year term of Joe Biden as president and Kamala Harris as vice president. The inaugural ceremony took place on the West Front of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. and was the 59th presidential inauguration. Biden took the presidential oath of office, before which Harris took the vice presidential oath of office.

The inauguration took place amidst extraordinary political, public health, economic, and national security crises, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic; former President Donald Trump's attempts to overturn the 2020 United States presidential election, which incited a storming of the Capitol; Trump's unprecedented second impeachment; and a threat of widespread civil unrest, which stimulated a nationwide law enforcement response. Festivities were sharply curtailed by efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate the potential for violence near the Capitol.[1][2] The live audience was limited; members of the Congress could attend with one guest of their choosing, resembling a State of the Union address.[3] Public health measures such as mandatory face coverings, testing, temperature checks, and social distancing were used to protect participants in the ceremony.[4]

"America United" and "Our Determined Democracy: Forging a More Perfect Union"—a reference to the Preamble to the United States Constitution—served as the inaugural themes.[5]

Context

The inauguration marked the formal culmination of the presidential transition of Joe Biden, who became president-elect after defeating Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential election on November 3, 2020.[6] The victory of Biden and his running mate, Harris, was formalized by the Electoral College vote, which took place on December 14, 2020.[7] In accordance with Article I, Section 6 of the United States Constitution, Harris resigned her seat in the United States Senate effective noon on January 18, 2021.[8] Trump repeatedly falsely disputed the legitimacy of the election, but committed to an orderly transition of power exactly two months after losing.[9]

Upon his inauguration, Biden became the oldest president at 78 years and 61 days, older upon taking office than Ronald Reagan, who left office at 77 years, 349 days. He also became the first president from Delaware, the second Catholic after John F. Kennedy, and the fifteenth former vice president to serve as president.[10][11] Harris became the first woman to hold a nationally elected office, first African American, and first Asian American vice president.[12]

Organizers

Joint Congressional Committee

The swearing-in ceremony for President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris was planned by the Joint Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, a bipartisan committee composed of United States Senators Roy Blunt (chairman), Mitch McConnell, and Amy Klobuchar, and United States Representatives Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, and Kevin McCarthy.[13][5] The committee is overseen by the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration.[5]

On December 8, 2020, Republican members of the committee voted against a resolution that would have publicly recognized Biden as the president-elect and Harris as the vice president-elect.[14] After Biden's win was certified by the Electoral College, Blunt and several other Republican senators finally acknowledged him as the president-elect, stating that he will facilitate communications with Biden's presidential inaugural committee to prepare for the inauguration.[15]

Presidential Inaugural Committee

The 2021 Presidential Inaugural Committee organized several other inauguration‑related events at the direction of the President‑elect and Vice President‑elect of the United States. The committee was led by Jim Clyburn, Eric Garcetti, Cedric Richmond, Lisa Blunt Rochester, and Gretchen Whitmer (co-chairs), Tony Allen (chief executive officer), Maju Varghese (executive director), Yvanna Cancela and Erin Wilson (deputy executive directors), David A. Kessler (chief medical adviser), and Adrienne Elrod (director of talent and external affairs).[16] The committee hired Stephanie Cutter and Ricky Kirshner, who produced the largely virtual 2020 Democratic National Convention, along with Glenn Weiss to organize the inaugural programming.[17]

Theme and programming

The Joint Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies chose the inaugural theme "Our Determined Democracy: Forging a More Perfect Union" to highlight the inaugural ceremony as a "hallmark of American governance and democracy" and stress the peaceful transition of power.[5]

Allen, Biden Inaugural Committee CEO, stated that the events would "look different amid the pandemic" but maintain inaugural traditions while engaging Americans in a safe manner.[16] This includes several virtual concerts and events hosted by celebrities, featuring live musical performances and speeches that will span five days—Saturday, January 16, 2021 through the evening of Inauguration Day.[18] The committee's inaugural theme is "America United" and its official YouTube channel and other social media will feature exclusive content related to the ceremonies.[19]

Planning

Inaugural platform at the United States Capitol

On September 3, 2020, the Capitol Police Board announced that public access to the West Front of the United States Capitol would be restricted from September 7, 2020, to February 28, 2021, to "allow for the safe and secure construction of the Inaugural platform, stands, and other infrastructure necessary to support the event".[20] Construction began on September 29, 2020.[21] The traditional "first nail ceremony" commemorating the start of construction of the inaugural platform was not held because it coincided with the death and state funeral of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Supreme Court justice.[22] The platform can support 1,600 spectators. However, far fewer were permitted for this event, due to attendance restrictions designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.[4] Another 1,000 people, often choirs and musical guests, are traditionally situated on risers above the platform, but these were not used at full capacity for this event.[5]

Costs

Compared to past inaugurations, the drastic reduction in crowd size at Biden's inauguration was expected to reduce costs.[23] Typically, presidential inaugurations cost about US$100 million.[23] In September 2020, prior to implementing attendance restrictions, costs were estimated to exceed US$44.9 million, with the District of Columbia's costs incurred in connection with the event being reimbursed by the federal government.[24] However, the storming of the Capitol two weeks prior to the inauguration on January 6, along with threats of nationwide unrest, significantly increased the need for security.[25] John Sandweg, a former Homeland Security Department official, remarked that the United States Secret Service likely has a surplus of funds because of lower-than-usual expenses during the 2020 campaign season, when presidential nominating conventions were mostly virtual and the travel of presidential candidates was curtailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[23]

Security and counter-terrorism efforts

The inaugural platform occupied by pro-Trump rioters during the storming of the United States Capitol, fourteen days before the inauguration

The inauguration, like all ceremonies since the first inauguration of George W. Bush in 2001, was designated a National Special Security Event (NSSE); however, on this occasion, the week preceding it was included in preparations.[25] The storming of the United States Capitol on January 6 by a mob of pro-Trump extremists raised concerns about the security of the inauguration.[26][27] The Secret Service, which provides additional security to events involving high-profile public officials, released a statement asserting that the ceremony would be safe.[28] Mesh fencing and barriers that were previously installed for the construction of the inaugural stage were torn down in the attack.[26][29] Rehearsals for the ceremony, originally set for January 17, were postponed until January 19, citing these security concerns.[30] Biden chose not to move the ceremony indoors,[31] saying he was "not afraid of taking the oath outside" during a public ceremony as originally planned;[32] Biden's team indicated that they believed a public, outdoor ceremony was necessary to show U.S. national strength, resilience, and resolve.[33] Former Homeland Security Advisor Lisa Monaco advised the Biden team on security-related matters for the ceremony.[30]

Following the attack and subsequent violent threats by the same groups and individuals to disrupt Biden's inauguration, the Secret Service launched a massive security operation that surpassed any in modern U.S. history,[26] with the aim of avoiding a repeat of the deadly Capitol riot.[34] On January 11, Trump approved a request for an emergency declaration in Washington, D.C., allowing federal assistance through FEMA to help secure the event.[35] On the same day, the National Park Service warned that groups who were involved in the riot "continue to threaten to disrupt" the inaugural ceremony and posed "credible threats to visitors and park resources".[36] On January 14, a thirteen-page "joint threat assessment" was issued by the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and other federal and local agencies, identifying domestic extremist groups as "the most likely threat" to the inauguration, followed by foreign influence operations and extremist drone attacks.[37][31] The bulletin noted that extremists have had "ability to act with little to no warning, willingness to attack civilians and soft targets, and ability to inflict significant casualties with weapons that do not require specialized knowledge".[31][37] The bulletin also noted that since the January 6 Capitol attack, U.S. intelligence had identified Chinese, Iranian, and Russian efforts to inflame tensions and violence, echoing prior attempts by foreign adversaries to take advantage of disinformation spread by Trump, such as a campaign to cast doubt on the security of postal voting.[31] In a separate January 18 intelligence briefing, the FBI warned law-enforcement agencies that, although the bureau had not identified any specific plots to attack the inaugural ceremonies, far-right extremists had discussed the possibility of impersonating National Guard members in D.C. in order to infiltrate the inauguration.[38] The briefing warned of potential threats from both "lone wolf" attackers and followers of the extremist "QAnon" ideology.[38]

On the same day, the Secret Service established a Multi-Agency Command Center (MACC) to coordinate inauguration security; established six days earlier than planned, the MACC includes agents and representatives from 50 to 60 entities, including government agencies (such as the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, Defense Department, Park Police, and D.C. Metro Police) and private companies (including a gas company, CSX railroad, and Amtrak).[26] At the request of D.C. Metro Police, the Marshals Service assisted with inauguration security, and planed to deputize up to 4,000 local law enforcement officers from across the nation to assist.[34] "Non-scalable" seven foot-high crowd control barriers with razor wire atop them and jersey barriers were installed around the perimeter of the Capitol grounds to prevent disruptions during the ceremony and deconstruction of the platform.[39] The network of barriers and fencing were taken down after the inaugural events were completed, although a heightened security presence continued.[40]

Aviation security

Ahead of the inauguration, the Transportation Security Administration increased aviation security at the three D.C.-area airports, increasing the use of random gate screenings, explosive detection dogs, and federal air marshals.[41][31] Washington, D.C.-area airspace (which is ordinarily highly restricted) was even more tightly controlled.[42][43]

National Guard security

Thousands of armed National Guardsmen were deployed to secure the city[44] from all 50 states, three territories, and the District of Columbia itself.[45] Thousands arrived a week before the event and rested in the Capitol Visitor Center.[46] The Washington Post noted that the Capitol "resembled a makeshift barracks, as hundreds of guardsmen sprawled on the marble floor, using backpacks as pillows and with unloaded M4 rifles within reach".[47]

National Guard troops in D.C.
Date National Guard troops
on duty in DC (est.)
Jan. 14 7,000[48]
Jan. 16 (morning) 10,000[49]
Jan. 17 (morning) 16,500[45]
Jan. 18 (evening) 21,500[50]
Jan. 19 (morning) 25,000[51]

The Pentagon, through the National Guard Bureau, authorized a maximum of 21,000 National Guard troops before increasing the authorized maximum to 25,000 on January 15.[48] National Guard forces increased steadily in the days leading up to the inauguration,[49] and the maximum was reached on the eve of Inauguration Day.[51] The total number of National Guard troops supporting inaugural security operations was about three times the number activated for recent inaugurations.[51] The National Guard operation was called Operation Capital Response.[50][52] Major General William J. Walker of the D.C. National Guard commanded National Guard forces in D.C.[49] While most state governors and adjutant generals agreed to requests from Defense Department officials to send more troops, some governors declined to send additional troops, desiring to retain capability to defend their own state capitals.[53] The activation of National Guard forces into D.C. was a logistically challenging operation, with National Guard members from nearby states traveling by ground conveys, and National Guard members from more distant states flying into Joint Base Andrews.[53][54] Arriving National Guard units reported to the D.C. Armory to obtain Secret Service-issued credentials needed for access to the secure perimeter.[50]

Amid concerns from defense officials about potential insider threats, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy confirmed that the FBI would run a vetting process for the 25,000 National Guard troops to be stationed in D.C. for the inauguration; the process involves running names through FBI databases and watchlists to detect any red flags, such as extremist or terrorist connections or involvement in previous investigations.[55] Twelve Army National Guard troops were removed from the inaugural security mission and sent home[42] after the military determined that they presented "security liabilities." Two were relieved of duty for making "inappropriate comments or texts"[56] indicating possible sympathies for anti-government extremist groups and threats to lawmakers; one of these was flagged within his unit's chain of command, and the other was identified through an anonymous tip.[42][57] The other ten were removed for reasons unrelated to extremism,[57] including pending criminal investigations, complaints, or domestic abuse.[42]

Soldiers with the Virginia National Guard on January 16.

In addition to securing the Capitol, National Guard forces in D.C. were also be used for traffic control duties.[58] Military police National Guard units were particularly important to the effort due to their specialized training on handling civil disturbances.[58] The total number of troops in the city may have been the highest since the American Civil War—comparable to that during Lincoln's first inauguration, which also featured an increased military presence—and surpassed the 13,000 guardsmen deployed during the 1968 riots.[41]

After the inauguration, the National Guard began to wind-down operations, arranging for approximately 15,000 of the 25,600 National Guard troops in the District to return home over the next five to ten days, with approximately 7,000 to remain through the end of the month. The demobilization process included checking in equipment, making travel plans, and testing for COVID-19.[59][60] When the Guardsmen arrived in the city, they were required to undergo a COVID-19 screening, including a questionnaire, but few were required to take COVID-19 tests for clearance to join the mission.[61] They resided in tight quarters, and some removed their facial coverings while around each other—both conditions increase the likelihood both of spreading and contracting the virus. The inability of the National Guard to protect the Capitol within COVID-19 guidelines raised concerns among officials.[61] On January 22, nearly 250 members who patrolled the Capitol and city reportedly tested positive for the virus.[61]

In the early afternoon of January 21, the Capitol Police ordered all 3,500 members of the National Guard stationed in the Capitol and congressional office buildings to relocate to the Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building parking garage.[62] The garage was lit and heated but lacked sufficient internet and cellular reception, electrical outlets, and bathroom facilities for the thousands of troops told to occupy the space;[62] temperatures in the city also dropped to the low 40s (F) by nightfall.[63] National Guard Bureau spokesman Major Matt Murphy stated that guardsmen were told they were no longer permitted to rest on Capitol grounds due to increased indoor foot traffic in hallways and open spaces as Congress reconvened; they were also told to organize "mobile command centers" in nearby open spaces or hotels.[63][62] During their 12-hour guard duty shifts, members were cycled into the garage to relax and given hotel rooms to sleep in when their shifts were completed.[62] However, the move was widely criticized by members of Congress of both parties; Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called the decision "outrageous".[64]

In the early hours of January 22, both the Capitol Police Watch Commander and Inauguration Task Force Commander Brig. Gen. Janeen Birckhead confirmed that the National Guardsmen were allowed back into the Capitol to again reside in Emancipation Hall of the Capitol Visitor Center.[64] Yogananda Pittman, the acting chief of the Capitol Police, released a statement shortly after, saying that she did not issue the order to vacate the complex and that the Capitol Police would "reduce the need for sleeping accommodations by establishing shorter shifts".[64][63]

Many members of the National Guard who patrolled the Capitol may be asked to remain active until March following concerns that unrest may arise during the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump, which is scheduled to begin February 8, and around Biden's first State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress.[65] Christopher Rodriguez, director of the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency for the District of Columbia, has requested continued National Guard support with traffic management and crowd control through January 30, anticipating that "another national special security event" will occur.[65] According to the National Guard Bureau, about 7,000 troops will remain in the city until January 30.[65][60]

Active-duty operations

In addition to the National Guard troops, the Defense Department assigned an estimated 2,750 active-duty personnel in support of inaugural operations; about 2,000 to perform ceremonial duties (military bands, color guards, salute-gun battery, sentries, and ushers) and the remaining 750 in specialized units (including CBRN defenses, bomb squads, logistics and communications personnel, and medical personnel).[42] Additionally, U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) aircraft and watercraft will patrol the air and water.[42] From January 12 to January 25, a stretch of 10 miles (16 km) of the Potomac between the Francis Scott Key Bridge and the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge was closed to marine traffic, and patrolled by the USCG cutters Lawrence O. Lawson and Chock as well as small boats with USCG Maritime Security Response Team members.[66] U.S. Air Force fighter jets are planned to be in flight.[42]

Travel restrictions and site closures

Security-related site restrictions in and around the National Mall, Southwest D.C., Capitol Hill, and downtown Washington, D.C. on Inauguration Day

After the January 6 storming of the Capitol, in which five people died, organizers and officials made an unprecedented effort to deter people from visiting Washington, D.C. during the week of the inauguration over concerns of political violence. Efforts include:

  • D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser urged tourists not to visit the city during the week of the event,[67] and the Office of Personnel Management asked federal agencies to allow federal employees to work remotely during the week.[58]
  • The National Mall, which served as a non-ticketed viewing area in past ceremonies, and Washington Monument at its geographic center will be closed to the public.[36]
  • Much of the surrounding downtown area near Capitol Hill, Union Station, the Lincoln Memorial, and White House came under significant parking restrictions, and road closures remaining in effect until January 21, the day after the inauguration.[68][69]
  • The WMATA announced the closure of 13 Metrorail stations, beginning on January 15 and extending to January 21, "to keep the public safe" and to "discourage travel within the secure zone"; the stations that remained in operation running on a Saturday schedule. Metrobus service was also modified, with routes changed due to the security perimeter.[70][71]
  • The Postal Service will temporarily remove or lock public post boxes and suspend mail collection in Washington and several major U.S. cities to "protect postal property, employees, and the public" in the event of civil unrest.[72]
  • Airbnb canceled all reservations in the city, major airlines banned incoming travelers from checking firearms on board, a local hotel workers' union called on hotels to restrict guests to those providing inauguration security, and many parking garages around the Capitol will be closed or rerouted.[73][74][75]
  • MARC Train and Virginia Railway Express commuter rail service from suburban Maryland and Virginia, respectively, will be suspended on the days leading up to and including Inauguration Day.[76][77]
  • Amtrak issued a travel advisory in Washington, D.C. and increased security, with Northeast Regional service operating south of the city into Virginia to be halted on January 19–20.[78]
  • The State of Virginia announced on January 15 that, as part of an agreement with the U.S. Secret Service, four bridges over the Potomac River connecting Virginia to D.C.—Theodore Roosevelt, Arlington Memorial, Interstate 395, and 14th Street—would be closed to vehicular and pedestrian traffic for a 48-hour period over the inauguration, from 6 a.m. on January 19 to 6 a.m. on January 21.[79][77] Key Bridge, connecting Virginia to the D.C. neighborhood of Georgetown, remained open.[80] The Secret Service initially closed several bridges spanning the Anacostia River—specifically, the 11th Street Bridge and South Capitol Street/Frederick Douglass Bridge—but on January 19 reopened those bridges to local traffic only, in response to concerns about those areas being cut off from a trauma center and additional grocery stores.[80]
  • On January 15, the House Oversight Committee asked 27 transportation and hotel companies, including Avis, Hertz, Marriott, and Hyatt, to implement screening procedures to prevent the use of their services by domestic terrorists targeting the inauguration.[30]

Arrests and incidents

On January 15, Capitol Police arrested a 31-year-old man from Front Royal, Virginia, carrying an "unauthorized" inauguration credential after he attempted to access a restricted area on the Capitol grounds. The man had attempted to enter a secure checkpoint in his pickup truck, and upon questioning from police volunteered that he had a Glock in the center console; on later inspection, police said they also found more than 500 rounds of ammunition, as well as two dozen shotgun shells in the truck.[81] The man, claiming to be a private security guard, said he had been aiding the security work downtown ahead of the inaugural ceremony. He acknowledged having the loaded gun and shotgun shells, but denied driving with more than 500 rounds of ammunition. He said it was an "honest mistake" and that he had forgot to take the weapon out of his truck before coming to D.C., saying he had mistakenly gotten lost in the city but used the inauguration credential he was granted.[81] The man was charged with carrying a pistol without a license, possessing an unregistered firearm and possessing unregistered ammunition. The Washington Post reported that the man was not tied to extremism and cooperated fully with police.[81] He was released on personal recognizance pending charges and instructed not to visit DC during the inaugural events except for court proceedings.[81]

The inaugural platform from behind riot barriers, eight days before the event

On January 17, a 22-year-old avowed Trump supporter from Gordonsville, Virginia, was arrested near the Capitol complex, carrying a Glock 22 handgun, three high-capacity magazines, and 37 rounds of unregistered ammunition. The man was arrested on charges of carrying a pistol without a license, possessing a large-capacity ammunition feeding device, and possessing unregistered ammunition.[82] In a separate incident the same day,[82] a 63-year-old woman from Stratford, Connecticut, claimed to be a law enforcement officer and "a part of the presidential cabinet" after being stopped by Capitol Police at a checkpoint near Union Station; she fled from police before she was arrested.[83] The woman underwent a psychiatric examination,[83] and was subsequently charged with impersonating a law enforcement officer, failing to obey an officer, and fleeing an officer.[82]

Also on January 17, Couy Griffin, a county commissioner in Otero County, New Mexico, and founder of the "Cowboys for Trump" group, was arrested in Washington, D.C. Griffin had participated in the January 6 Capitol riot and had vowed to return to D.C. for the inauguration, armed with guns, and to hold a rally that would end with "blood running out of" the Capitol. Griffin was charged with knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building without lawful authority.[84]

On January 18, the Capitol complex, where a dress rehearsal for the ceremony was due to take place, was evacuated due to a fire at a homeless encampment outside in the 100 block of H Street SE, to which D.C. Fire and EMS responded.[85][86] A public address system alerted people on the Capitol grounds,[85][87] and members of Congress were advised to shelter-in-place via email.[87][88] A military band and individuals standing in as participants in the inaugural ceremony were forced to evacuate the inaugural platform.[89][87] The small fire was promptly extinguished and caused one non-life-threatening injury.[90] The blaze produced a cloud of smoke that was visible over the Capitol.[85][87][86]

The inauguration proceeded without incident.[91]

Pre-inaugural events

America United inaugural welcome

On the Saturday before the inauguration, America United: An Inauguration Welcome Event Celebrating America's Changemakers, opened the inaugural program by celebrating the election of Biden and Harris through a series of musical performances and political speeches.[92][18] The live-streamed event opened with an original performance of "Everybody Deserves To Be Free" by the Resistance Revival Choir, a group of female and non-binary protest singers,[93] featuring a lead vocal by soul artist Deva Mahal. Members of the group pre-recorded video and audio of their individual performances, which were digitally assembled on screen for the airing.[92]

The Pledge of Allegiance was then led by members of the Girl Scouts. Mexican American producer Cristela Alonzo introduced the program, remarking that Biden's inauguration will be "the beginning of the next chapter" in American history.[92] New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland then recounted the contributions and struggles of America's indigenous peoples, and introduced Quechan Indian tribal nation leader Claudette White, who joined in the performance of a traditional song.[92] After the performance, several female political organizers appeared remotely and discussed the significance of Harris's election as the first female vice president.[92] Alonzo then introduced actor Nik Dodani, who emphasized the importance of Biden's inauguration, and civil rights activist Janet Murguía, who spoke of the political successes of women of color in the 2020 presidential election.[92] International, national, and local union leaders, including American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten and National Education Association president Rebecca S. Pringle, along with leaders representing firefighters, government and service sector employees, steel, auto, postal, food, and communications workers then celebrated Biden's win as a success for workers in their respective industries, citing his support of their causes, such as the Fight for $15.[92]

Actress Whoopi Goldberg then appeared and said that she feels "optimistic" for the nation under Biden and Harris's leadership, and actor and musician Darren Criss then performed a cover of "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher".[92][94] Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta, Georgia, an early endorser of Biden's 2020 campaign,[95] then joined, saying Biden "will ensure that all Americans ... have their voices heard".[92] Musical group the Black Pumas then performed their song "Colors" and said they are "looking forward to a new sense of optimism, unity and peace" for all Americans.[94] Concluding the event, New York Congresswoman Grace Meng introduced Harris, who said that she "stands on the shoulders" of those who created opportunities for women, particularly African-American women, to participate and lead in politics.[18][92]

Official musical playlist

The Biden Inaugural Committee released an official musical playlist of 46 songs (symbolizing Biden as the 46th president) that was curated by disc jockey D-Nice and music label Raedio,[96] created by actress Issa Rae.[97] The playlist is part of the committee's efforts to have Americans participate from home for the inauguration.[98] The playlist, released on all major streaming platforms, includes Biden, Harris, and their spouses' "walk-on songs", which were played when they appeared on stage at campaign rallies.[96][98] According to Rolling Stone, Biden's "walk-on song" is "We Take Care of Our Own" by Bruce Springsteen; Jill Biden's is "You Make My Dreams (Come True)" by Hall & Oates; Harris's is "Work That" by Mary J. Blige; and Emhoff's is "You Get What You Give" by New Radicals.[96] Committee CEO Allen remarked that the musical selections "reflect the relentless spirit and rich diversity of America" and will serve as the "score to a new chapter" in American history as Biden and Harris begin their "important work to unite [the] country".[96][98]

"We the People" virtual concert

On the Sunday before the inauguration, Biden's inaugural committee organized the virtual "We the People" concert fundraiser co-hosted by actor Keegan-Michael Key and actress Debra Messing.[99] Attendees of the live-streamed event had to donate to the Biden Inaugural Committee to be allowed entry.[100] The concert opened with Biden and his wife, Jill, thanking supporters of his campaign and acknowledging the lives lost in the COVID-19 pandemic; Biden remarked that it is the "honor of [his] lifetime" to serve as president.[100]

Musician Ben Harper was the first musical performance of the night, playing his song "With My Own Two Hands".[101] Singer Michael Bivins made a video appearance and thanked viewers for their donations. Band AJR then performed their song "Bummerland".[101] Singer Barbra Streisand then joined to congratulate Biden and Harris, calling for them to "restore the health" of the United States and world; she also performed her rendition of "Happy Days Are Here Again", an American standard.[101][100] Messing introduced actor and former Barack Obama administration member Kal Penn, who reflected on the importance of the inauguration and hope of a "brighter future".[101] Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, then joined via video link to thank supporters and list the issues they will face in leading the nation.[100]

Rapper will.i.am then performed "American Dream",[101] a charity single supporting his fundraising initiative for the i.am Angel Foundation to expand STEM education for underprivileged students.[102] Actress and activist Sophia Bush later appeared to thank donors to the inaugural committee, and musician Carole King performed her Grammy Award-winning song "You've Got a Friend".[103] Mexican actor Jaime Camil then delivered a short address on immigration, and James Taylor performed "America the Beautiful", which he also played at the 2013 inauguration.[104][105] Actress Connie Britton reflected on political unity and the time she met then-Vice President Biden at the 2016 United State of Women Summit.[104] Musical act Fall Out Boy performed their song "Centuries" in a pre-recorded video.[101] Cher then addressed Biden and Harris's win, saying that she is "thrilled" and "optimistic" for them to lead the nation; she then performed a cover of Miley Cyrus's song "I Hope You Find It".[100] In concluding the event, DJ Cassidy addressed viewers and sampled music.[101]

National Day of Service

A social media graphic from the Biden Inaugural Committee regarding the National Day of Service

Two days before Inauguration Day, January 18, 2021, was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a federal holiday that recognizes Dr. King's birthday. Biden and his inaugural committee encouraged Americans to engage in acts of community service and organized over 2,500 virtual or socially distant volunteer events in 56 U.S. states and territories in partnership with AmeriCorps.[106] The committee recommended several volunteer activities aimed at improving people's economic, health, and social well-being,[107] including writing cards for those recovering from COVID-19, knitting sentimental items for the homeless, serving at "contactless" food and clothing donation drives, and participating in community cleanups.[108] Biden and his wife volunteered at Philabundance, a non-profit food bank in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by helping box canned goods.[109] Harris and her husband volunteered in Washington, D.C.[110]

United We Serve online event

On the evening of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Biden inaugural committee celebrated Dr. King's commitment to community service through virtual speeches and music in United We Serve: A Celebration of the National MLK Day of Service.[111][112] Co-hosts Sean Patrick Thomas and Lynn Whitfield introduced the event and commended the acts of volunteerism Americans participated in during the day of service; both Harris and her husband, Emhoff, appeared and discussed the importance of the inauguration and community service.[112] Dr. King's son, Martin Luther King III, daughter-in-law, Andrea, and granddaughter, Yolanda, discussed community service; his youngest daughter, Rev. Dr. Bernice King, then spoke at a pulpit and remarked on her late father's practice of nonviolence.[111] Musician Aloe Blacc performed his song "My Way";[113] cellist Yo-Yo Ma performed Air and Simple Gifts, a composition he also performed at the 2009 inauguration in the presence of then-Vice President-elect Biden;[114] Andra Day performed her song "Rise Up"; BeBe Winans sang Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech;[115] Alejandro Fernández and band Maná performed "Decepciones";[116] and Chesca and Diane Warren performed "El Cambio", which was frequently played during Biden's campaign. Additional speakers included Rev. Al Sharpton, NAACP president Derrick Johnson, National Urban League president Marc Morial, Senators Cory Booker and Tammy Duckworth, Kansas Congresswoman Sharice Davids, actress Rosario Dawson, and several other academics and civil rights activists who spoke on the legacy of Dr. King.[113]

Field of Flags

The National Mall covered with flags representing inaugural attendees who were unable to attend in person

Across the National Mall to 13th Street, a public art display composed of 191,500 U.S. flags and 56 pillars of light (representing the 50 U.S. states, D.C., and the five permanently inhabited U.S. territories), were installed, representing those who could not attend the inauguration in person due to the attendance restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.[117][118] The field was lit the evening of January 18.[119]

Lincoln Memorial lighting

On Tuesday, January 19, Biden departed his home state of Delaware in a send-off ceremony at his late son Beau Biden's namesake Major Joseph R. "Beau" Biden III National Guard/Reserve Center in New Castle;[56] the event included remarks from Governor John Carney, Biden and his wife, Dr. Biden, and a benediction by Rabbi Michael S. Beals of Congregation Beth Shalom in Wilmington.[120] Later that day, Biden, Harris, and their spouses participated in a nationwide lighting ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.[121] Inaugural organizers invited communities around the United States to light buildings and ring church bells at 5:30 p.m. ET on the eve of the inauguration in a moment of "unity and remembrance" for those lost to the pandemic.[121] The Lincoln Memorial lighting was held simultaneously, providing a moment of national reflection to help Americans find the spirit to rebuild after the pandemic.[122] Cardinal Wilton Daniel Gregory, the archbishop of Washington, delivered the ceremony's invocation; gospel singer Yolanda Adams sang "Hallelujah" and Michigan nurse Lori Marie Key performed "Amazing Grace". Both Biden and Harris, in their addresses, emphasized the importance of national grieving, with Biden saying it's "how [Americans] heal".[56] Several national landmarks participated in the lighting ceremony, including the Empire State Building, Space Needle, and buildings in major U.S. cities and on tribal lands.[122] Washington National Cathedral tolled its bells 400 times in memory of the over 400,000 Americans who died, thus far, in the COVID-19 pandemic.[123]

Other virtual events

Inaugural program organizers also held three separate live-streamed events commemorating the contributions of various racial and ethnic groups to the cultural diversity of America.[113][124]

Asian American and Pacific Islanders

Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) were celebrated in AAPI Inaugural Ball: Breaking Barriers, a partnership between the inaugural committee, and advocacy organizations IMPACT and RUN AAPI.[125][113] The event featured remarks and musical performances from Neera Tanden, Congresspeople Ami Bera, Pramila Jayapal, Andy Kim, and Raja Krishnamoorthi; former Olympian Michelle Kwan; actors Kal Penn, John Cho, Kumail Nanjiani, and Chloe Bennet;[126] and musical performances by Japanese Breakfast, who played "Everybody Wants to Love You!",[125] Ari Afsar, Raja Kumari, and others.[113]

African Americans

African Americans were celebrated in We Are One, hosted by Terrence J, through "inspiring stories and entertaining performances".[124] Politicians Stacey Abrams, congresspeople Jim Clyburn, Cedric Richmond, Joyce Beatty, Senator Cory Booker, and Senator-elect Raphael Warnock appeared.[113] Actors and actresses, including Leslie Jones and Kim Fields, were also featured; musical acts Tobe Nwigwe, DJ D-Nice, Frankie Beverly, The O'Jays, Rapsody, and Step Afrika!, among others, performed.[113] The event also included a Battle of the Bands, featuring several historically black college marching bands from around the nation.[113][124] Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority president Dr. Glenda Glover and Howard University president Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick delivered remarks.[127]

Hispanic and Latino Americans

Hispanic and Latino Americans were celebrated in Latino Inaugural 2021: Inheritance, Resilience, and Promise, hosted by Eva Longoria, in partnership with many Hispanic advocacy groups, including the Hispanic Federation.[113][124] Entertainment figures John Leguizamo, Rita Moreno, Edward James Olmos, Ivy Queen, and Becky G appeared along with many civil and voting rights advocates and U.S. senators Ben Ray Luján, Bob Menendez, Catherine Cortez Masto, and Alex Padilla (Harris's senatorial designate).[113] Musical performers included Gilberto Santa Rosa, Gaby Moreno (featuring David Garza), who performed "Fronteras",[113] Lin-Manuel Miranda and Luis Miranda paid tribute to Puerto Rico through the song "En Mi Viejo San Juan",[126] Mariachi Nuevo Santander, who performed American folk song "This Land is Your Land"; and All-Star Tejanos United, an act from Roma, Texas, performed "America the Beautiful: A Salute to the Latino Imprint".[128] The Wailers performed the Emilio Estefan production "One World, One Prayer", featuring relatives of Jamaican musician Bob Marley.[124]

Train ride

Biden originally planned to travel to Washington, D.C. from Wilmington, Delaware on an Amtrak passenger train, which he routinely took during his time as a U.S. Senator—earning him the nickname "Amtrak Joe". However, this plan was canceled due to security concerns.[129] On January 20, 2017, after completing his tenure as vice president, Biden departed the city on an Amtrak Acela train bound for his namesake station in Wilmington, Delaware.[130]

Inauguration Day morning

Biden and his wife, Dr. Biden, spent the night of January 19 at Blair House, the President's Guest House—a custom for incoming presidents.[131] Traditionally, the president-elect meets with the outgoing president at the White House on the morning of their inauguration after a church service. Since Trump did not attend the inaugural ceremony—becoming the first outgoing president to do so since Andrew Johnson in 1869[132]—and did not communicate with Biden directly since the second presidential debate of the 2020 campaign, this tradition was not upheld.[133] Before both of his inaugurations as vice president, Biden attended a Catholic Mass celebrated by Fr. Kevin O'Brien. In 2013, this service was at the vice president's residence.[134] Biden and his wife, along with the second family attended Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew in Washington.[135] Biden extended invitations to the four congressional leaders from both parties—Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)—and all four accepted.[136]

Trump greets a crowd of supporters during his farewell ceremony

Trump departure ceremony

Trump departed for his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida the morning of the inauguration out of Joint Base Andrews aboard Air Force One.[137][138] Trump and his wife, First Lady Melania Trump, landed on the tarmac in helicopter Marine One and were greeted by hundreds of his supporters, a red carpet, 21-gun salute, and military band performance of the official presidential anthem, "Hail to the Chief".[139] He delivered short remarks at a podium bearing the presidential seal, telling the crowd "we will be back in some form".[139][138][140] A number of songs played as he boarded the helicopter, many of which featured prominently at Trump rallies; this included "Macho Man" and "Y.M.C.A.", as well as "Fortunate Son", "Funeral for a Friend", and "Billie Jean".[141] As Air Force One lifted off, Frank Sinatra's "My Way" played—the song Trump and his wife danced to during his inaugural ball four years prior.[138] Trump's White House issued invitations for the event to many present and former administration officials. Several invitees who have been critical of Trump, such as Don McGahn, John F. Kelly, and Anthony Scaramucci, declined to attend.[142][56] He delivered his official farewell address the day prior, and referred to the "inauguration of a new administration".[143][144] In keeping with tradition, Trump left Biden a letter of support in the Resolute desk.[145] When asked about the letter, Biden stated that it was "generous", but refused to provide details.[146] Outgoing Vice President Pence did not attend. After attending Biden's inauguration, he departed for his home state of Indiana, where a group of supporters, including his brother, Indiana Congressman Greg Pence, welcomed him.[56]

"Our White House" online event

Beginning two hours before the outset of the inaugural ceremony, actress Keke Palmer hosted Our White House: An Inaugural Celebration for Young Americans, a livestream aimed at engaging youth in the day's events.[147] Dr. Biden addressed viewers in a pre-recorded message, and historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and Erica Armstrong Dunbar discussed the ceremony's significance; a Nickelodeon special on White House pets and PBS NewsHour student interviews aired, along with other curated educational content.[147]

Inaugural events

Presidential communications

The transfer of power included the transition of official administration Twitter accounts, @POTUS and @VP. Members of the Biden administration also assumed ownership of a number of institutional accounts, including @WhiteHouse, @FLOTUS for First Lady Jill Biden, @SecondGentleman for Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, and @PressSec for White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.[148] New executive branch websites have been initialized; previous administrations' websites are in the National Archives.[149]

COVID-19 public health measures and attendance

Most traditional inaugural festivities were conducted virtually, primarily modeled after the 2020 Democratic National Convention.[150] The ceremony took place outdoors on the West Front of the United States Capitol, the site of every inauguration since Ronald Reagan's in 1981. While members of Congress, in previous years, would receive 200,000 tickets to distribute among constituents, on this occasion, each member was allotted one guest ticket,[151] with many taking their spouses.[152] Only around 3,000 people were to be permitted into the secure perimeter areas,[153] and the total live attendance for the scaled-down event was to be just over 1,000 people,[154] with guests seated both on the inaugural platform and in front of the platform.[152]

The decision to limit attendance was made by the Joint Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies based on consultation with public health experts.[151] According to historian Jim Bendat, COVID-19 prevention and security measures instituted for Biden's inauguration would make it the smallest ceremony since Franklin D. Roosevelt's fourth inauguration in 1945, when the inaugural was held at the White House before an audience of just a thousand people due to Roosevelt's poor health and the ongoing world war.[155]

Outgoing Vice President Mike Pence attended the ceremony but outgoing President Donald Trump chose to not attend.[156][157] Former presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, along with respective first ladies Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, and Michelle Obama, attended, while former President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter did not, as they were unable to travel.[158] Former vice presidents Walter Mondale, Al Gore, and Dick Cheney did not attend; however, Dan Quayle did attend.[159][160] For the first time in more than two decades, not every U.S. Supreme Court justice attended: Justices Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer, and Samuel Alito, the oldest members of the Court, opted not to attend in light of the COVID-19 health risks, while the other six justices attended.[161] Other attendees included the family members of Biden and Harris,[152] Biden's Cabinet nominees,[152] various ambassadors to the United States,[162][163] and other dignitaries.[164] For the first time, the representative of Taiwan in the United States (the country's de facto ambassador) was invited to attend a presidential inauguration, with Hsiao Bi-khim attending the ceremony.[165]

Ceremony

Lady Gaga performing the national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner"

The U.S. Army Herald Trumpets played ruffles and flourishes. The U.S. Marine Band (nicknamed "The President's Own") played a medley of patriotic music by Sousa, Bagley, and others; heralded the entry of dignitaries to the inaugural platform, including the performance of "Hail, America" to introduce then-President-elect Biden; performed "Hail, Columbia" (the official anthem of the vice president) to introduce then-Vice President Pence and after Harris was sworn in, and "Hail to the Chief" (the official anthem of the president) after Biden was sworn in. The band had appeared at every presidential inauguration since Thomas Jefferson's in 1801.[166][167] Courtney Williams, Senior Chief Musician and concert moderator for the U.S. Navy Concert Band, returned as the platform announcer for his fourth consecutive inauguration.[168]

Senator Amy Klobuchar opened the ceremony with a short speech, saying the storming of the Capitol two weeks prior "awakened us to our responsibilities as Americans"; she declared the inaugural day "the day when our democracy picks itself up, brushes off the dust, and does what America always does: goes forward as a nation".[169] Senator Roy Blunt, chair of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies and the master of ceremonies, delivered a short speech; commenting on the Constitution's Preamble, Blunt remarked that the endeavor to create a "more perfect Union" is a continuing project and said that "we are more than we have been and we are less than we hope to be".[170]

Leo J. O'Donovan, a Catholic priest, member of the Jesuit order, and former president of Georgetown University,[171][172] delivered the invocation; he called "American patriotism, born not of power and privilege, but of care for the common good with malice toward none and with charity for all" a "thrust of the Spirit" and quoted Archbishop John Carroll, Pope Francis, and the Epistle of James.[173] Lady Gaga then sang the national anthem and Georgia firefighters' union leader Andrea Hall led the Pledge of Allegiance, using American Sign Language in addition to speaking. Jennifer Lopez performed her renditions of "This Land Is Your Land" and "America the Beautiful", and during the bridge, she translated the last phrase of the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish: "una nación, bajo Dios, indivisible, con libertad y justicia para todos".

After the inaugural address (see below), Garth Brooks performed "Amazing Grace" (including the verse "When we've been there ten thousand years"), and asked the public to join him in singing the final verse; and National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman recited her poem "The Hill We Climb".[174][175][176] At 22, Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet.[175] Rev. Dr. Silvester Beaman, a Methodist pastor of Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Delaware, and a friend of Biden, delivered the benediction paraphrasing Isaiah 11 by replacing both in the messianic role of the "shoot from the stump of Jesse", and in the yet-to-be-reconciled role of the "wolf" and "lamb", with references to "We the People". Saying, for example, "We will not kill or destroy on all your Holy Mountain", and "We will not learn hate anymore."[172]

Biden was sworn in on a Bible that has been in his family since 1893—the same one he used during his senatorial and vice presidential swearing-in ceremonies—held by his wife.[177] It is a late 19th-century edition of the Douay–Rheims Bible, with commentary by George Leo Haydock.[178] The Bible is large—5 inches (12.7 cm) thick—and has a Celtic cross on the front.[179] Biden's inauguration marked the first time a Catholic Chief Justice administered the oath to an incoming Catholic president.[180] Harris was sworn in on two Bibles held by her husband, one belonging to Regina Shelton, a person important to her and her sister Maya Harris, and another belonging to former Supreme Court Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall.[181]

Oaths of office

Harris takes the oath of office, administered by Justice Sotomayor
Biden taking the oath of office, administered by Chief Justice Roberts

Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor administered the oath of office to Harris at 11:40 a.m. Sotomayor became the first woman to administer an inaugural oath twice after she administered Biden's at his 2013 swearing-in.[181] Harris recited the following:

I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. [So help me God.]

Chief Justice John Roberts then administered Biden's oath of office at 11:47 a.m., with 13 minutes remaining in Trump’s term. Biden recited the following, as prescribed by the Constitution:

I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. [So help me God.]

Upon completing the oath, the U.S. Army Band ("Pershing's Own") played four ruffles and flourishes, but a 21-gun cannon salute was not rendered, which caused a brief delay in the proceedings before Biden was able to deliver his inaugural address. The 21-gun cannon salute for President Biden was later rendered at the wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.[182]

The presidential nuclear football, which can authorize a nuclear attack while away from a command center, was discreetly given to military aides of the new administration during the ceremony; however, Trump's absence did not change the automatic deactivation of his and Pence's nuclear access and activation of Biden and Harris's.[183]

Inaugural address

President Biden's 21-minute inaugural address laid out his vision to unite the nation prefaced by the various impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, economic strife, climate change, political polarization, and racial injustice.[184] Biden composed the speech with the assistance of speechwriter Vinay Reddy, senior advisor Mike Donilon, incoming Secretary of State Tony Blinken, and chief of staff Ron Klain.[185] His speech was described by the New York Times as a "direct rebuttal" in tone to Trump's inaugural address (in which Trump spoke of "American carnage"), as Biden called for an end to the "uncivil war" of political, demographic, and ideological American cultures through a greater embrace of diversity.[186]

In the speech, Biden repeated his campaign pledge to "fight as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did".[187][188] Focusing on the struggles of American citizens, Biden expressed sympathy, but stressed that distrust and fighting amongst one another would not better their conditions.[189] He cited the Civil War, Great Depression, world wars, and September 11 attacks as moments in American history where citizens’ “better angels” prevailed, stating that the solution—unity—must again be invoked to rise from the "cascading" crises of the present; this unity, he proclaimed, exists in the "common objects" that define America: "opportunity, liberty, dignity, respect, honor, and ... truth".[189][187]

Biden delivers his inaugural address to a socially distant crowd

Biden vocalized his opposition to disinformation and politicians who seek to gain from its weaponization—a passive reference to Trump, who frequently made false or misleading statements while in office.[186] He explicitly decried white supremacy and nativism, calling them an "ugly reality" of American life he vows to defeat that clouds the "American ideal" set out in the U.S. Declaration of Independence—that all Americans are equal.[186][187][190] Biden pledged that the United States would "engage with the world once again"; "repair our alliances"; and act as a "trusted partner for peace and security."[191] His decision, for example, to reinstate American participation in the Paris Agreement via executive order, which Trump withdrew from, signaled his commitment to a global policy on climate change.[192]

Biden also discussed the historical significance of Harris's ascension to the vice presidency, recounting the movements for civil rights and women's suffrage that permitted African Americans and women to participate in politics; he celebrated their inauguration as a "triumph" for democracy, affirming a peaceful transfer of power exactly two weeks after the violent storming of the Capitol.[188][187] Near the conclusion of his speech, Biden held a moment of silence for those who died in the COVID-19 pandemic.[189] Quoting the Gene Scheer composition "American Anthem",[193] he implored Americans to consider their legacy in answering the "call of history" to protect "democracy, hope, truth, and justice", "secure liberty", and make America a "beacon to the world", insisting that generations of their descendants will judge them on their actions.[189] In closing his speech, Biden promised to "always level" with the American people and govern exclusively in their interest.[189]

After the inaugural address, there was a performance of "Amazing Grace" by Garth Brooks, a poem reading by Amanda Gorman, and a prayer by Rev. Dr. Silvester Beaman (see above).

Post-inaugural events: "America United"

Biden, Harris, and their spouses, participate in a Pass in Review

After the swearing-in ceremony, Biden, Harris, and their spouses participated in a Pass in Review on the East Front of the United States Capitol featuring members of the United States Armed Forces. Traditionally, before the Pass in Review, the new president would escort the outgoing president to a helicopter, Marine One, where they would officially depart Washington, D.C.[194] However, Trump's decision to not attend Biden's inauguration and rather depart prior to the event's outset broke this custom. The congressional luncheon, a tradition witnessed since the 1897 inauguration of William McKinley, was canceled due to public health concerns, the first time since the 1977 inauguration of Jimmy Carter.[195] However, Biden and Harris were presented several gifts in the Capitol rotunda, including Landscape with Rainbow by Robert S. Duncanson, two lead Lenox crystal vases cut by Peter O'Rourke, two flags that were flown over the Capitol during the inaugural ceremony, and portraits of them taking their oaths of office.[196]

Later in the afternoon, Biden participated in a signing ceremony, declaring an Inauguration Day Proclamation and his nominations for Cabinet and sub-Cabinet positions to Congress.[197] In the evening, Harris swore-in Senators-elect Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock who, respectively, won the January 5 regular and special Georgia Senate runoff elections that yielded a Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate, along with Alex Padilla, who was appointed by California Governor Gavin Newsom to fill Harris's vacated seat.[198]

Arlington National Cemetery wreath laying ceremony

Biden and Harris lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery

Following the Pass in Review, Biden and Harris, along with former presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, and all their spouses, participated in a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.[67] Presidential historian Timothy Naftali noted that the ceremony was significant because Congress had decided on Inauguration Day in 1921, almost 100 years prior to Biden's, to bury an unidentified soldier who died in World War I at the plot.[199] Naftali additionally remarked that the gathering of Biden and former presidents to honor the unknown soldiers who died in war served as a "visual message of unity, at a time of anxiety, pain and suffering in [the] country".[199]

Parade Across America

The inaugural parade procession passes the White House

Following the wreath laying ceremony, a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, NW escorted Biden and Harris to the White House which included every branch of the U.S. military, along with drumline bands from Biden and Harris's alma maters, the University of Delaware and Howard University, respectively.[200][201] The Virtual Parade Across America, organized by the Biden Inaugural Committee, was hosted by actor Tony Goldwyn, reflecting the "diversity, heritage, and resilience of the country" in the event's musical acts, poets, dance troupes, and more.[202][200] Viewing stands outside the White House that were originally constructed for members of the public were dismantled because they were ultimately deemed unnecessary for the revised plans.[203] The live parade was announced by Charlie Brotman, who has served as the inaugural parade announcer during almost every ceremony since former President Dwight D. Eisenhower's second inauguration.[56][204]

Comedian Jon Stewart, musicians Andra Day, Nile Rodgers, and Kathy Sledge, along with several choirs and athletes (including former Olympians Nathan Chen, Allyson Felix, and Katie Ledecky) appeared in a "virtual roll call".[200][205] The parade included 1,391 virtual participants, 95 horses, and nine dogs.[56] Frontline healthcare workers and several distinguished students and educators who helped their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic were honored as "heroes" during the ceremony.[200] Choreographer Kenny Ortega led a dance featuring 275 recorded segments from participants around the country;[201] the Ryan Martin Foundation, a "wheelchair basketball program", joined the parade virtually.[200] Musical act New Radicals reunited for the first time in two decades to conclude the parade with their hit song "You Get What You Give".[206] The song was used by Harris's husband, Emhoff, during 2020 campaign rallies, and was referred to by Biden in his autobiography, Promise Me, Dad, as his family's "rallying "theme song"" during his late son Beau's terminal battle with glioblastoma.[206] The band's leader, Gregg Alexander, said that he hoped the group's performance of the song was a "tiniest beacon of light in such a dark time".[206]

Celebrating America special

Harris's speech during Celebrating America.

Traditional inaugural balls, which often gather hundreds of dignitaries to see the president and extend late into the evening, were not held due to pandemic-related restrictions. A primetime television special, Celebrating America, aired as a substitute in simulcast across most major television networks and other cable and streaming outlets. Hosted by Tom Hanks, the evening event opened with a performance of "Land of Hope and Dreams" by Bruce Springsteen on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.[207] Hanks then addressed viewers, emphasizing the "promise of our promised land", and introduced four guests, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dolores Huerta, Brayden Harrington, and Kim Ng who, respectively, recited lines from the inaugural addresses of presidents Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan, reflecting on their speeches' emphasis of national unity, confidence, patriotism, and peace.[208]

Anthony Gaskin, a Virginia UPS deliveryman, introduced Jon Bon Jovi, who performed an acoustic rendition of "Here Comes the Sun" by The Beatles.[208] Biden was then introduced by Hanks to the U.S. Navy Band Brass Ensemble's playing of four ruffles and flourishes and "Hail to the Chief"; he spoke inside the Lincoln Memorial and emphasized the importance of "opportunity, liberty, dignity, and respect". Yo-Yo Ma performed a cello solo sampling "Amazing Grace", "Goin' Home" from Dvořák's 9th symphony, and "Simple Gifts". Ant Clemons and Justin Timberlake then performed their song "Better Days" in Memphis, Tennessee.[209] Mackenzie Adams, a Washington elementary school teacher, then introduced Foo Fighters; frontman Dave Grohl opened the performance by acknowledging the "creative ways" educators have dealt with teaching modality challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic,[208] and then the band performed "Times Like These".[210] A cavalcade of Broadway stars performed "Seasons of Love" and "Let the Sun Shine In".

Chef and philanthropist José Andrés discussed the food insecurity crisis in America, and introduced Morgan Marsh-McGlone, a Wisconsin elementary school student who raised over US$52,000 for the hungry by creating an online lemonade stand.[208] Lin-Manuel Miranda then recited Irish poet Seamus Heaney's "The Cure at Troy",[211] one often quoted by Biden, such as in his address at the 2020 Democratic National Convention. American members of the Expedition 64 mission on the International Space Station then greeted viewers from orbit. Sarah Fuller, the first woman to play in a football game for a Power Five conference team, introduced Vice President Harris to four ruffles and flourishes and "Hail, Columbia"; she characterized the American people as "bold, fearless, and ambitious", exemplifying the Apollo 11 moon landing and civil rights and women's suffragette movements. John Legend then performed his rendition of "Feeling Good".[210]

Sandra Lindsay, a nurse who is the first U.S. citizen to receive the Pfizer–BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine,[212] introduced Tyler Hubbard and Tim McGraw, who performed their collaborative song "Undivided" on a Nashville rooftop.[213] Former presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, appearing in the Arlington Memorial Amphitheater, remarked on the importance of uniting America and witnessing the peaceful transfer of power;[208] they also offered words of support for Biden and Harris. Demi Lovato then celebrated frontline healthcare workers in her performance of Bill Withers's song "Lovely Day".[210] In closing the special, Katy Perry performed her song "Firework" during a fireworks show over the Washington Monument, with views of Biden, Harris, and their spouses watching from the White House and Lincoln Memorial.[207]

Protests and demonstrations

A series of protests and counter-protests related to the results of the 2020 presidential election began in December 2020.[214]

After the violent attack on the Congress on January 6, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser asked the Interior Department to cancel D.C. demonstration permits and reject demonstration applications during the inauguration,[67][215] but the Interior Department declined to do so.[215] While the National Mall is closed to the public during the inaugural events, the National Park Service designated two adjacent areas—portions of the John Marshall Park and Navy Memorial—exclusively for "First Amendment activities" (protests).[58][216] The U.S. Park Police made the determination that "in light of recent events, and with the current available threat assessments, each of these park areas will be limited to no more individuals than can be safely accommodated" which was set as a maximum of 100 individuals in each location.[216] Those entering the designated areas will be screened via magnetometers.[215] The left-wing groups ANSWER Coalition and DC Action Lab were granted permits, and both agreed to stage demonstrations within these attendance limits.[215] Some applications for First Amendment permits were processed by the National Park Service for demonstrations on Inauguration Day, including those filed by the pro-Trump groups Roar for Trump and Women for a Great America.[217]

The scale of protests and armed militia marches that intelligence reports indicated would occur near the United States Capitol and at state capitols on Inauguration Day was vastly overestimated, both in size and scope.[218] Nationally, few people demonstrated at state capitols. At the New York State Capitol, a lone Trump supporter reportedly visited with the intention of protesting—the demonstrator had expected a "massive protest".[219] On January 17, three days before the inauguration, some members of the Michigan Boogaloo Bois openly carried weapons outside the state's capitol, but never became violent.[220] NPR attributed the lack of violent protests to several factors: the Justice Department's targeting of rioters from the storming of the Capitol; protest organizers warning of "false flag" events staged by law enforcement to "gather people for potential arrest"; and the banning or removal of social media profiles, groups, pages, and applications, such as Parler, associated with political extremism and fringe movements.[218]

Viewership

Nearly 40 million people watched Biden’s address on the combined major cable news and broadcast network television stations.[221] More than 21 million people watched the prime time Celebrating America special.[221] In 2017, a combined 38.3 million viewers watched Trump's inaugural address across the same networks,[221] according to Nielsen data, representing a 4% increase in raw television viewership.[222] CNN was the ratings leader throughout the day. Compared to the previous inaugural ceremony in 2017, Fox News's viewership fell 77%, while CNN's tripled and MSNBC's quadrupled.[222] The figures below, Nielsen data sourced from Adweek,[223] do not include streaming figures.[222]

Compared to the 2017 inauguration, Fox News Channel is the only cable news network to lose viewership, and ABC is the only broadcast network to gain viewership.

International reactions

Biden and Harris's assumption of their respective offices was met with congratulations from many world leaders, including Australian, Belgian, British, Canadian, Danish, Finnish, Greek, Icelandic, Indian, Irish, Israeli, Italian, Japanese, New Zealand, Norwegian, Pakistani, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish prime ministers Scott Morrison, Alexander De Croo, Boris Johnson, Justin Trudeau, Mette Frederiksen, Sanna Marin, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Narendra Modi, Micheál Martin, Benjamin Netanyahu, Giuseppe Conte, Yoshihide Suga, Jacinda Ardern, Erna Solberg, Imran Khan, António Costa, Pedro Sanchez, and Stefan Löfven; Ethiopian, German, French, Mexican and South Korean presidents Sahle-Work Zewde, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Emmanuel Macron, Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Moon Jae-in; European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, and Pope Francis.[224][225]

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying stated that the Chinese government hopes Biden will restore bilateralism.[224] Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called Trump a "tyrant" and urged Biden to return to the Iran nuclear agreement, which Trump withdrew the United States from, saying Iran will then "fully respect" their "commitments under the pact".[225] Hamas called Trump "the biggest source and sponsor of injustice, violence and extremism in the world", calling for Biden to "reverse the course of misguided and unjust policies against [their] people".[225]

See also

References

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External links

Coordinates: 38°53′23″N 77°00′36″W / 38.8898°N 77.0101°W / 38.8898; -77.0101