Biden and Harris Make History

President and Vice President Sworn-In During Crowd-Free Inauguration


Andrew Harnik, Associated Press

On Jan. 20, 2021, President Joe Biden was inaugurated in front of the Capitol. First Lady Jill Biden holds the family Bible as Chief Justice John Roberts swears in the 46th President of the United States.

Tvisha Goel, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Joseph R. Biden was sworn in on Inauguration Day, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, officially becoming the 46th President of the United States.  

President Biden attended the series of events that traditionally mark this special day for the country. Still cautious over the ever-looming pandemic, many of the inaugural events were virtual, yet still enjoyable for many watching from their homes. 

Inauguration Day started early morning with coverage of Former President Donald Trump delivering a speech, finally recognizing the incoming administration and wishing them well. Then, Trump and his family departed from the White House, set to come to his Mar-a-Lago estate, becoming the first president to skip his successor’s inaugural celebration. Instead, the Bidens were greeted by the White House chief usher Timothy Harleth. 

Before arriving at the White House, however, President Biden and his family attended Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, followed by the swearing-in ceremony at the Capitol beginning at 10:30 AM. 

The main inaugural event began with Father Leo O’Donovan delivering an invocation. Afterward, Andrea Hall recited the Pledge of Allegiance, Lady Gaga sang the National Anthem, Amanda Gorman, 23-year-old who became the first youth poet laureate in the US, recited her poem, “The Hill We Climb.” Jennifer Lopez performed the song “This Land Is Your Land,” which preceded Rev. Sylvester Bearman’s benediction. 

Following this series of performances was the official swearing-in of both Vice-President Kamala Harris and President Joseph R. Biden. Vice-President Harris was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor at 11:15 AM. 

It was this part of the ceremony that most affected Upper School Academic Dean Mrs. Caroline Guzman. She shared, “the part of the inauguration that was most moving to me was when Justice Sonia Sotomayor (a Supreme Court Justice I was able to work on the nomination process for), the first Hispanic female Justice, swear in Kamala Harris, our first FEMALE, African American, and Asian American Vice President of the United States. I was overcome by the historic nature of these two powerful, successful, first females in their roles taking part in such an integral part of our Democracy.”

As the clock approached noon, President Biden was sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts.

Biden then delivered his first speech as President, centering on the unity of the country despite many factors attempting to divide America, which seemed to be the theme of the entire Inauguration day. 

Discussing the importance of the inaugural ceremony, Senior Caitlin DeGraff noted,  “It symbolizes not only a transition of power in the most basic sense, but ultimately a transition in the standard of being a citizen. It is a commencement of hope, a new day, and a better future. It shows the power of our voice to vote, show up, and rise above hate, prejudice, and lies.”

As the main inaugural event of the day continued, more than 20,000 National Guard troops were assigned to protect the event, while the National Mall was strictly open to the media and the security with the effects of the raid on Jan. 6 were still lingering. 

Once Biden and Harris were sworn in as the country’s next leaders, they, as well as their spouses, participated in the Pass in Review on the East Front of the Capitol, a military tradition to symbolize a peaceful transfer of power to a new Commander-in-Chief. Then, Biden, Harris, their spouses, joined by former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton, and their spouses, laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, a long-standing event to honor the memory of those who have fallen protecting the country.  

After heading to the White House, there was a virtual “Parade Across America” in place of the traditional inauguration parade on Pennsylvania Avenue. The virtual event featured performances from Jon Stewart, Earth, Wind & Fire, and others. 

Finally, from 8:30 PM to 10:00 PM, an event called “Celebrating America” took place, with performances from Demi Lovato, John Legend, Justin Timberlake, and Katy Perry, who closed with her song “Firework,” ending the event while colorful fireworks in the background. 

Chair of the Social Studies department, Ms. Misselhorn summarized the day: “The long-standing tradition has withstood the test of time and it is reassuring that precedents set by our first President still are practiced, like the inaugural address.  Watching the inauguration, and the many events surrounding it, like the parade, affirms our democratic traditions as a nation, reminding us to appreciate the role we play in the process.  It’s important to watch for all these reasons; plus, it’s fun to see how different people and events, like the performance by Katy Perry and the fireworks display this inauguration, play a part in the ceremonies.”