A smaller crowd, protected by 25,000 National Guard troops, watched as Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States Wednesday morning, while outgoing President Donald Trump skipped the ceremony, the first to do so since 1869.
A far cry from just two weeks ago when supporters of Trump stormed the Capitol building, ending in damage to the structure and the deaths of five people, the inauguration went off without any drama, albeit in a smaller form than other years due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Before Biden was sworn in, Kamala Harris took her oath of office from Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor, becoming the first female vice president, the first black vice president, and the first South Asian American vice president. Harris’ father was a Jamaican immigrant and her mother was an Indian immigrant.
Following Harris, 78-year-old Biden took his oath from Chief Justice John Roberts, becoming the oldest U.S. president ever to take the oath.
In his speech, Biden sounded a hopeful tone.
“We’ve learned again that democracy is precious,” Biden said. “Democracy is fragile. At this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.”
He referenced the violence of January 6 and said that his hope was to move the country forward and to bring about unity in a very divided country.
“And so today at this time in this place, let’s start afresh, all of us,” he said. “ Let’s begin to listen to one another again. Hear one another, see one another, show respect to one another. Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire, destroying everything in its path. Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war.”
Although Trump skipped the inauguration, he did give a farewell address from Andrews Air Force base where he listed his accomplishments, things like tax cuts, a booming economy, creation of the Space Force, revamping the Veterans Administration, and record low unemployment.
Photo by Times of India
He didn’t mention Biden but thanked those he worked alongside at the White House and praised the country and his time as president.
“I just want to say, you are amazing people. This is a great, great country. It is my greatest honor and privilege to have been your president,” he said. “I will always fight for you. I will be watching, I will be listening. And I will tell you that the future of this country has never been better.
“I wish the new administration, great luck and great success. I think they’ll have great success,” he said.
Biden’s first day in office was scheduled to be a busy one, with 15 executive orders waiting for his signature, the most of any president on his first day. No other president had signed more than one on his first day.
Many of those executive orders take direct aim at Trump.
Biden planned to sign executive orders stopping construction on the U.S.-Mexico southern border wall, revoking the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, ending travel bans on visitors from some Muslim countries, laying out a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, rejoining the Paris climate accord and more.
Although there will be push back on many of Biden’s plans, at least for the duration of the inauguration the tone remained one of cooperation and hope.
“My fellow Americans, I close the day where I began, with a sacred oath before God and all of you,” Biden said. “I give you my word, I will always level with you. I will defend the Constitution. I’ll defend our democracy. I’ll defend America… thinking not of power, but of possibilities, not of personal interest, but the public good.”
By Dave Taylor