On a slightly snowy day in January, as has been done every four years since 1789, a President took the sacred oath of office. This time it was Joseph R. Biden Jr., who was sworn in Wednesday afternoon, becoming the 46th President of the United States.
Kamala Harris was sworn in as the 49th Vice President of the United States, as well. Harris is not only the first woman to hold the position, but the first Black and South Asian person, shattering gender and racial barriers.
While 45 snubbed the event and chose to fly on Air Force One to Mar-A-Lago, other former presidents attended including Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, along with their spouses. The event was also attended by outgoing vice president Mike Pence and his wife Karen. 45 was the first president in almost 152 years to skip his successor’s inauguration.
Biden Emphasizes Unity
The purposely scaled-back inauguration took place outdoors Wednesday in the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has killed over 400,000 Americans.
Biden, 78, takes office as the oldest President of the United States. He also takes at office at one of the most challenging and grimmest times in American history. He immediately faces a COVID crisis that has taken the lives of 400,000 people. He also takes office facing an economy that has been on a downward spiral with record unemployment. Biden also faces severe issues including a highly divided nation, climate change and racial equality.
In his inaugural address, President Biden, with steely determination and compassion, pleaded for unity. Something that is tantamount as only two weeks ago, Trump-supporting domestic terrorists overtook the Capitol building during a Congressional joint session meant to certify Biden’s win.
“This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge,” the 46th president said on the Capitol steps Wednesday. “And unity is the path forward. And we must meet this moment as the United States of America. If we do that, I guarantee you we will not fail.”
“This is America’s day. This is democracy’s day.”
The president referenced the violent attack on the Capitol two weeks ago, saying it underscored the value of American democracy.
“We’ve learned again that democracy is precious,” the president said. “And at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.”
Biden said the nation “must confront” white supremacy, possibly becoming the first president to utter that phrase in an inaugural address.
“The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer,” the president said.
Biden also called on the nation to unify after four years of 45’s divisive presidency.
“This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward,” the president said.
The President argued that unity was the only successful path forward for the country.
“I know speaking of unity can sound to some like a foolish fantasy these days. I know the forces that divide us are deep and they are real. I also know they are not new,” the president said in his inaugural address. “Unity is the path forward.”
Biden described America’s history as a “constant struggle” between the country’s professed ideals and its lived reality.
The president then pointed to Kamala Harris being sworn in as vice-president as an indication of how much positive change the nation can achieve.
“Don’t tell me things can’t change,” Biden said.
President Biden also said, his administration will take steps to restore America’s standing in the world, strengthening the U.S. national security workforce, rebuilding democratic alliances across the globe, championing America’s values and human rights, and equipping the American middle class to succeed in a global economy.
We’ll lead not merely by the example of our power, but by the power of our example,” Biden said.
The President added, “We will be judged, you and I, by how we resolve these cascading crises of our era. Will we rise to the occasion? Will we master this rare and difficult hour?”
Biden wrapped up his speech after about 21 minutes, marking a rather short inaugural address.