After a whirlwind last couple of months in office, Donald Trump is–not so gracefully–no longer president of the United States. After a term full of broken promises, civil unrest and even a Capitol Hill breach carried out by his own followers, Trump has decidedly been forced out of the White House by the hands of progress. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris began a new administration on January 20th, in a day full of sentimental speeches, performances by some of the biggest American stars and the heralding of a new era.
With the obvious dampener of COVID lingering in the air, a majorly reduced and socially distanced outdoor inaugural ceremony outside the Left Wing of the Capitol was the setting for Biden’s inauguration. Shortly past 11:30am EST, Biden and Harris were sworn in officially, Biden by John Roberts and Harris by Sonia Sotomayor. Biden gave his first presidential speech shortly after, emphasizing a new motif of “America United” and healing for the nation as a collective. Another major theme was the honoring of more than 400,000 American lives lost from the COVID pandemic.
Former President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama were present, as well as many members of the Supreme Court and Congress. Former VP Mike Pence was in attendance, but Former President Donald Trump neglected to show up to the ceremony—the first president to skip his successor’s inauguration since Andrew Jackson in 1869. Despite his claims that he was prepared for a peaceful transition of power, this move seems like that of a sore loser, not to say slightly disrespectful, considering that the Obama’s gave him a courteous transition and appeared front row at his inauguration.
Noteworthy performances by pop stars Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez, and Bruce Springsteen and country artist Garth Brooks kept viewers of all tastes nailed to the screen. This focus on popular music that appeals to multiple generations is telling of the Biden-Harris administration’s aims to unite young citizens as well as elderly ones. Amanda Gorman performed the poem “The Hill We Climb,” about the American spirit and trying to do better. Gorman, who is said to have stole the day, is the youngest poet laureate to date, at the age of 22. Her impressive resume includes being named Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles at age 16 and the National Poet Laureate while studying sociology at Harvard University. What’s even more impressive is the fact that soon she’ll be setting an upcoming release date for an original book of poems and accompanying picture book. Reverend Dr. Silvester Beaman, a close friend of Biden’s for 30 years, gave the benediction.
Later in the afternoon, a virtual parade celebrating all 56 states and territories proceeded. This included a traditional visit by President Biden and VP Harris to the Arlington Cemetery. Before heading to work, Harris, who was celebrate all over the Internet by women rocking “Chucks & Pearls” in solidarity of the day, was proceeded in a procession by Howard Universities marching band–her alma mater.
Instead of a fancy gala, the final spectacle of the day was the “Celebrating America” made for TV event featuring blockbuster performers and comments and remarks from Biden and Harris as well. A new generation and new term has arrived, hopefully soothing the chaos of 2020 and the Trump administration. Stay safe out there, teens! Change is here.
By Leah Ollie, Senior, Whitney Young Magnet High School