Inauguration Day 2021


Screenshot by Cade Spencer

President Joe Biden gives his Inaugural Address at the front of U.S. Capitol. President Biden claimed that “democracy has prevailed,” in his speech.

Faith Lawrence and Cade Spencer

On Wednesday, Jan. 20, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States in the middle of what the New York Times called a time of “profound economic, health and political crises.” 

The 59th Presidential Inaugural ceremony was conducted under a theme: ‘Our Determined Democracy: Forging a More Perfect Union,’ as it was held in front of the U.S. Capitol. 

“This is America’s day, this is Democracy’s day,” Biden said in his inaugural address. “Today, we celebrate the triumph of not a candidate, but the cause of Democracy. The will of the people has been heard. At this hour, my friends, Democracy has prevailed.” 

Kamala Devi Harris was sworn in as the U.S. Vice President by Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Harris’ inauguration makes her the first female, Black American, and person of South Asian descent to hold the title of vice president or a form of national office. 

“As the first female V.P., Harris’ inauguration provides important representation for young girls in America and around the world, and is a step towards truly realizing the American dream of equality for all,” junior Chris Thompson said. 

In addition to Harris and Biden, former presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and George W. Bush attended the inauguration alongside their spouses. Outgoing Vice President Mike Pence was in attendance as well. 

“I believe [Harris] is making history,” junior Caroline Rasmussen said. “She broke the political glass ceiling, which makes me feel like anything is possible job-wise, regardless of race or gender identity. She is also the first step-mom to be Vice President, which I think is amazing because it normalizes having a blended family. This is important to me because I have a blended family and it is nice to see people in positions of power in the same circumstances as me.”

In contrast to past Inaugural ceremonies, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, only an estimated 2,000 guests were in attendance while wearing masks and participating in social distancing. In addition, in response to an attack at the Capitol two weeks prior, 25,000 members of the National Guard were present to secure the event. 

“We can stop taking steps backwards and start where we left off trying to fix the real, deep problems that our nation faces,” senior Brennon Zavaleta said. “The meltdown is over, now it is just a matter of handling the fallout.” 

45th President Donald Trump announced on his now-banned Twitter account that he would not attend President Biden’s inauguration. Trump became the first outgoing president not to attend the inauguration of his successor since 1869. Historian Douglas Brinkley claims that an outgoing president missing the incoming president’s inauguration is a sign that American society is in the midst of a major political feud.

“I thought it was embarrassing of Trump and Melania to not attend the inauguration,” senior Laine Smith said. “It was very immature of them, and not showing up because you lost is so childish and has such a bad look. I mean, Mike Pence was there and [Trump] was not. It’s laughable.” 

During his address, President Biden’s first official act was to initiate a silent moment of prayer for the 400,000 lives lost to COVID-19. The President hopes to “honor them by becoming the people and the nation we know we can and should be,” as he said in his inaugural address. 

“I think Biden’s first priority in office should be tackling COVID-19 and enforcing social distancing,” junior Camilla Cooper said. “The pandemic has continued for almost a year and now and so many other countries have gotten it completely under control, and I think that Biden’s first priority is to add us to that list and make sure we get through it.”

Izzy Rejino & Natalie Cullen

President Biden also spoke on the importance of unifying America in order to overcome COVID-19 and make America a “leading force for good in the world.” Biden said that he aspires to “be a president for all Americans.” 

“I think that unity is possible under Biden because he is aiming to help all Americans whether they’ve voted for him or not,” senior Amelia Crawford said. “I hope that all Americans will be able to unite with the common goal of overcoming the pandemic and going back to a more normal life. If Americans are able to set aside their political differences to work together then unity is possible.”

After the Inauguration, when President Biden returns to the President’s Room at the Capitol, he will officially sign three documents: the Inauguration Day Proclamation, Nominations to Cabinet Positions, and Nominations to sub-cabinet positions. As of Tuesday, Jan. 19, four proposed members of the Presidential Cabinet have begun confirmation hearings in the Senate. In comparison, by the time of his Inauguration, outgoing President Trump had 12 of his nominated cabinet members in active Senate hearings, demonstrating the delayed nature of the current process as a result of a tumultuous election cycle. 

“We need a strong neutral leader that can address the issues the nation has,” senior Korinne Stanley said. “We cannot ignore the racial unrest, rise of antisemitism, and sexism within our county. We need to admit we have issues, address them, learn from them, and be better.”

Additional reporting by Arushi Sharma, Sammie Thompson, Dylan Ebs, and Rae Gray.