On Wednesday, January 20, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were sworn into office. Joe Biden is the 46th President of the United States, and Vice President Kamala Harris made history as the first female, Black, and South Asian Vice President in U.S. history.
The Inauguration ceremony looked slightly different than it has in past years due to COVID and the attack on the Capitol, but, despite the limited attendees and increased security, there were still numerous speakers and performances. Lady Gaga sang the national anthem, Jenifer Lopez sang ‘This Land is Your Land’ with a transition into ‘America the Beautiful’, and Amanda Gorman, the nation’s youngest inaugural poet laureate, addressed the nation through a personal yet hopeful poem. Garth Brooks, a country singer, also performed, hoping to promote the dialogue of unity.
President Biden addressed the nation in an inaugural speech with a general theme of unity and positivity for the next four years, touching on key issues of racial injustice, global warming, the increase of division and the rise of white supremacy, and COVID-19. “My fellow Americans, we have to be different than this,” said President Biden in his address. “America has to be better than this. And, I believe America is better than this.”
Typically, after the Inauguration Ceremony, there is an Inaugural Ball. However, due to COVID-19, the ball was cancelled. Held in its place was a celebratory concert, hosted by Tom Hanks, where many well-known performers such as Bruce Springsteen, Demi Lovato, and Bon Jovi sang, accompanied by pre-recorded messages from essential workers and public figures.
While the event focused on hope for the future, there were still some reminders of the country’s recent loss. Lining the reflection pool were 400 candles, representing the over 400,000 casualties of COVID-19 where President Biden stopped to pay his respects to the lives lost. To help prevent further casualties, President Biden implemented a mask mandate on all federal property, part of his 100 day plan that covers everything from increased vaccine distribution to opening up schools.
As President Biden and Vice President Harris progress with their COVID-19 plans, Americans can watch and hope that our country moves towards some sense of normalcy in 2021.
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