Today Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris were sworn into the offices of President and Vice President, respectively, of the United States of America. The Joe Biden inauguration ceremony had a somber yet hopeful tone and did not shy away from mentioning the challenges the country is currently facing.
“This is America’s day. This is democracy’s day,” Biden said as he kicked off his address from the Capitol Building. Alluding to the recent violent unrest and bitter political division that marked this election and the weeks leading up to his inauguration, Biden said democracy had been tested and had ultimately “prevailed.”
Joe Biden Inauguration Marked by Challenges Facing Country
Biden went on to say that America would be judged for how it resolves the “cascading” challenges it faces, identifying climate change, the coronavirus, systemic racism, and our nation’s role in the world as among those challenges.
Joining Biden and his family on the veranda of the Capitol Building were clergy members, politicians, and former U.S. Presidents. Mike and Karen Pence attended the inauguration as is typical of members of the outgoing presidential administration. The veranda was packed with recognizable faces and even celebrities. But one person’s absence could not be overlooked. President Trump chose not to attend the inauguration and instead was on his way to his home in Florida along with members of his family.
The scene stood in stark contrast to a mere two weeks ago when supporters of President Trump scaled the walls and managed to storm that very building, thereby disrupting a joint session of the House and Senate gathering to certify the results of the November 2020 election. Those election results declared Biden the winner, a fact that Trump has repeatedly resisted and compelled others to resist.
Father Leo Jeremiah O’Donovan III opened the inauguration ceremony by delivering an invocation or prayer. O’Donovan is a longtime family friend to the Bidens and has served in various capacities throughout his career as a Catholic priest. He led Washington D.C.’s Georgetown University as president for several years as well as serving in his current role at Jesuit Refugee Service. O’Donovan has been highly critical of President Trump’s moves to limit the number of refugees allowed into the country each year of his presidency. Recently, Biden communicated his intention to significantly raise the refugee ceiling that was set by his predecessor.
O’Donovan prayed for God to give Biden wisdom, like King Solomon sought when he asked God to endow him with wisdom “so I can govern your people,” as O’Donovan paraphrased (1 Kings 3:9). The priest also quoted James 1:5, which says “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
After the invocation, a rotation of politicians, singers, and two Supreme Court justices took their turn at the podium. The following is a brief review of what happened:
Musician Lady Gaga, who wore a ball gown featuring a large golden brooch depicting a dove with an olive branch in its beak, sang the National Anthem.
Firefighter Andrea Hall recited the pledge of allegiance while also signing the words in sign language.
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor swore in Kamala Harris into the office of Vice President. Harris is the first woman, the first African American, and the first Asian American to hold this office. Harris placed her hand on two Bibles while she recited her oath of office. One Bible was that of Thurgood Marshall (the first African American Supreme Court justice) and the second belonged to Regina Shelton, a lady Harris refers to as her second mother.
Jennifer Lopez sang “This Land Is Your Land.” Toward the end of Lopez’s performance, she said “One nation under God with liberty and justice for all!” in Spanish.
Chief Justice John Roberts swore in Joe Biden to the office of President. Biden placed his hand on a Bible his family has owned since 1893. Each time Biden has been sworn in to the various offices he’s held in the federal government he’s used this family Bible.