Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’s Inauguration

By Amelia Vineyard, Section Editor

The month of January brought about several momentous changes on the political and global stage, but perhaps the most palpable is the inauguration of 46th President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. The inauguration was unequivocally different from previous inaugurations for several reasons, the presence of a global pandemic that has now seized over 400,000 American lives, the recent turmoil in the capital, and the evident lack of inaugural tradition displayed. Joe Biden’s inauguration had a significantly smaller crowd size than many previous presidents due to COVID restrictions, and most viewers watched from home instead of at the National Mall. It can be noted that several former presidents attended his inauguration, such as Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. Due to personal health, Jimmy Carter, the current oldest former president alive, was unable to attend. Former President Trump did not attend the inauguration, the first president to do so since Andrew Johnson in 1869. Instead, former Vice President Mike Pence attended the inauguration and participated in the symbolic send-off that usually occurs. There was an overall distinction between Biden’s inauguration and his predecessors, yet he still did his best to adhere to the overall essence of a typical presidential inauguration. 

The theme of President Biden’s inauguration was “America United,” a powerful message after the insurrection at the capital. In his speech, Biden enunciated the importance of American solidarity and bipartisanship. His message to the people spoke mostly about healing, whether that related to the COVID-19 crisis, racial injustice, or the fragmentation of the American political system. Biden also promised action, planning to act swiftly on aforesaid matters with the hopes of reaching agreements with both allies and opponents on the political spectrum. Due to COVID-19, President Biden chose to exclude many inaugural traditions such as the inaugural ball, to minimize the risk of spreading the disease. President Biden took the rest of the day to set into motion a series of executive orders, including a mask-mandate on federal property and the motion to rejoin the Paris Agreement.
Additionally, Joe Biden’s inauguration marked a series of firsts in American history. The inauguration of Vice President Kamala Harris marked the first female vice president, the first African-American vice president, and the first South-Asian-American vice president in US history. Harris was sworn in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who is the first Latina member of the Supreme Court. Biden’s inauguration displayed diversity and acceptance in the wake of racial injustice, promising hope for a brighter future. Another woman made history in Biden’s inauguration in the form of Amanda Gorman, who was the youngest inaugural poet in history. Her performance of “The Hill We Climb,” a poem she wrote herself, brought a chilling sense of reverence to the proceedings yet was inspiring all the same.  

Joe Biden’s inauguration was not traditional in any sense of what we have come to expect, yet his message on American unity in this time of crisis was incredibly strong. The hostility the American public witnessed following the events of January 6th seemed to starkly compare to the tranquility and soothing message of Biden’s inauguration. As time continues to unfold, we can only hope that the nation begins to face its challenges as one. It is the words of John Dickinson that best summarize President Biden’s message and the somber tone our country must adopt in these coming months; “Together we stand, divided we fall.”