A Historic Inauguration

Despite a worldwide pandemic and an insurrection attempt fourteen days before, nothing stopped Joe Biden and Kamala Harris from being inaugurated on January 20. The day began with President Donald Trump giving his farewell speech before stepping onto Air Force One to meet his family in Florida. He is now one of the four outgoing presidents who did not attend their successor’s inauguration. However, Vice President Mike Pence did attend the ceremony. 

On the other hand, President-Elect Joe Biden, Dr. Biden, Vice-President-Elect Kamala Harris, and Mr. Emhoff began their day by attending Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. At 10:30 AM, they arrived at the Capitol along with other important dignitaries, including the families of the two elected officials, the Obamas, Clintons, Bushes, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Kamala Harris was escorted into the building by Officer Eugene Goodman, the heroic man who deterred the aggressive mob from the Senate Chambers on January 6. 

The ceremony began with speeches from Senator Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota and Senator Roy Blunt from Missouri. After a clean sweep of the podium per coronavirus protocols, Father O’Donovan led an invocation. Subsequently, Lady Gaga sang the national anthem with her own golden microphone. Andrea Hall, a firefighter from Georgia, followed with the Pledge of Allegiance. 

Vice President Kamala Harris was sworn into office by Justice Sonia Sotomayor shortly afterward. The first black, first Asian-American, and first female vice president of the United States marked an unforgettable moment in history.

Later on, Jennifer Lopez performed “This Land is Your Land,” which was followed by Joe Biden’s big inaugural moment. Chief Justice John Roberts inaugurated Joe Biden and at 11:00 AM CST, President-Elect Joe Biden officially became the 46th president of the United States.

The moment was followed by “Amazing Grace” sung by Garth Brooks. Next, Amanda Gorman recited her poem “The Hill We Climb” making her the youngest Inaugural Poet at age 22. A GN slam poet Vidhi Mehta, ’21, was expecting more “traditional” poetry, but found it “refreshing to see poetry being read on a national stage that felt a little more like the poetry [she] enjoys.” The ceremony concluded with a benediction by Reverend Dr. Silvester Beaman. 

After the ceremony, the president and the first lady hopped into the Secret Service Vehicle known as The Beast, and the vice president and second gentleman followed in their respective vehicle. They drove to Arlington Cemetery to participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. In previous years, Inauguration Day included an Inauguration Parade, but due to the pandemic and security concerns, a virtual parade known as the “Parade Across America” was organized instead.

At 4:15 PM CST, President Biden signed seventeen executive orders. Some of them were aimed to reverse actions by Trump and others took action against the pandemic. Julie Paska, ’21, notes that, “it was a big step from the chaos we’ve had for four years; we must also acknowledge that seventeen is not enough. In order to cause real change, we have to continuously work and fight to make things right. Let’s not stop at seventeen.”

Vice President Kamala Harris also swore in Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock, the winners of the run-off senate election in Georgia. Alex Padilla was also sworn in, and he will be replacing Kamala Harris in the Senate. The new combination of senators — with Harris as the tie-breaker — gives the Democrats the majority in the Senate.

The historic day was concluded by Katy Perry performing “Firework” and fireworks lighting up Washington, D.C. January 20 marked the beginning of a new era where Democrats got control of the White House and Congress, and the first black, Asian-American, and female vice president took office.