On Wednesday, Jan. 20, President Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States along with Vice President Kamala Harris as the 49th Vice President. Due to recent security issues regarding the storming of the capitol and an unprecedented global pandemic, the event was held mostly virtually. Instead of people, the National Mall was covered in a “Field of Flags” around 200,000 that decorated where guests normally stood, representing the 400,000 deaths due to COVID. On the night of the inauguration, 56 pillars of light representing the 56 states and US colonies decorated the National Mall, setting the thousands of flags aglow. The only individuals allowed to attend the inauguration were governmental leaders and their families as well as the performers.
Though the inauguration was lacking in a live audience, it was not lacking in excitement. Lady Gaga sang the National Anthem, followed by a virtual parade and performances by Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks. Post-inauguration performances featured even more stars, including Justin Timberlake, Demi Lovato, and Jon Bon Jovi.
22-year-old youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman delivered a pre-inauguration poem. In her work “The Hill We Climb,” she described the United States as “not broken, but simply unfinished.” She implored the audience to put their differences aside, to not look at “what stands between us, but what stands before us.” The rest of her poem focused on rebuilding the nation and not focusing on how it once was, but what it could be. She concluded with hope for the nation: “For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it.” Overall, her poem was well received; even former First Lady Michelle Obama tweeted, “With her strong and poignant words, Amanda Gorman reminds us of the power we each hold in upholding our democracy.”
Though ordinarily the president leaving office attends the inauguration, Former President Donald Trump left prior to President Biden’s, becoming the first former president to skip their successor’s inauguration since Andrew Jackson.
After being sworn in, President Biden gave a speech in light of all the U.S. is currently going through. He emphasized that this is not his victory, but the victory of the people of the United States and democracy. “We learned again that democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile. And at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.”