By McKenzie Collins
Nation and World Editor
Today, Joseph R. Biden Jr. was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States.
The inauguration makes history with Vice President Kamala Harris being sworn in as the first woman, first Black American and first South Asian American to be elected to the position.
Prior to the ceremony, according to ABC News, Biden attended mass at Washington’s Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle with the four highest ranking members of Congress. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) were all in attendance, implying their intentions to host further bipartisan discussions in an attempt to reunite the country.
According to NBC News, President Trump chose not to attend the inauguration ceremony, but the Clinton, Obama and Pence families were in attendance, as were the families of Breonna Taylor and Jacob Black, two victims of police brutality, according to CNN .
Based on the events of Jan. 6 in which the Capitol building was invaded by extremist pro-Trump supporters, the Biden Harris administration was prepared for violence throughout the innauguration — according to BBC News, in preparation of the event, the National Mall and many major roads were closed. Additionally, fences were constructed around the perimeter of the White House to prevent violence.
According to The Guardian, approximately 25,000 members of the national guard have been deployed in Washington since the riots of Jan. 6. However, one day prior to inauguration twelve people were pulled off duty due to potential right wing extremism.
CNN reported that the Supreme Court building, which sits across the street from the U.S. Capitol building, received a bomb threat. However, the building was not evacuated.
Eugene Goodman, the Capitol police officer who led the mob away from sheltering legislators on Jan. 6, escorted Vice President Harris to the ceremony. According to the New York Times, Goodman served as the second-in-command security official in the Senate for the inauguration. Officer Goodman was also awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for his heroic actions.
In his 22-minute-long inaugural address, Biden outlined his plans for the next four years, constantly stressing and emphasizing the importance not only of democracy, but also of unity between all Americans.
“We’ve learned again that democracy is precious, democracy is fragile, and at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed,” said the President.
The inauguration was followed by several speeches, one of which was given by Amanda Gorman, the nation’s first-ever youth poet laureate, who today stated in an impassioned reading of her inaugural poem, “Being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we step into and how we repair it.”
In preparation of reading “The Hill We Climb” at the inauguration, Gorman told The New York Times, “In my poem, I’m not going to in any way gloss over what we’ve seen over the past few weeks and, dare I say, the past few years. But what I really aspire to do in the poem is to be able to use my words to envision a way in which our country can still come together and can still heal. It’s doing that in a way that is not erasing or neglecting the harsh truths I think America needs to reconcile with.”
Before joining the small group of internationally famous poets who have also been invited to speak at presidential inaugurations — Maya Angelou and Robert Frost prominent among them — Gorman studied Philosophy at Harvard University. In addition to being the recipient of a litany of awards, Gorman was also appointed as the Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles at age 16.
“In another January, on New Year’s Day in 1863, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. When he put pen to paper, the president said, and I quote: ‘If my name ever goes down into history, it’ll be for this act. And my whole soul is in it,’” President Biden said in his inaugural address. “My whole soul was in it today. On this January day, my whole soul is in this: Bringing America together, uniting our people, uniting our nation. And I ask every American to join me in this cause.