By: Alexis Cope
This afternoon, Joseph R. Biden Jr. was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States.
With his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, at his side, the new president took the oath of office on a Bible that has been in his family since the 19th century.
Those in attendance included several members of the Senate and Supreme Court Justices, Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, the Obamas, the Clintons, the Bushes, and former Vice President Mike Pence.
Trump, as he announced, did not attend; the last time a sitting president failed to be present at his successor’s inauguration was in 1869, when Andrew Johnson refused to see Ulysses S. Grant take office.
In his first speech addressing the nation as president, Biden spoke emphatically about unity and about restoring America to “an America that never gives up, never gives in.” He promised, “I will be a President who seeks not to divide, but to unify. Who doesn’t see Red or Blue states, but a United States….if we can decide not to cooperate, then we can decide to cooperate.”
Perhaps to drive home this point, VP Harris, former First Lady Michelle Obama, and former Secretary of State Clinton all wore outfits in varying shades of purple, a color which is a mix of both red and blue.
Due to COVID-19 and enhanced security, there was a very small crowd presence at the Capitol. Instead, the inauguration proceedings were streamed across several viewing platforms, with hundreds of thousands watching. A live art installation, the “Field of Flags,” covered the National Mall; the flag of every state and territory was present, representing all those who could not be there in person.
This afternoon, Biden and Harris, accompanied by family and with military escort, exited their respective vehicles and, walking, led the inauguration parade to the White House, where the final proceedings of the day will take place.
To read the full transcript of Biden’s inaugural remarks, visit his website here.