Inauguration Day was on Wednesday, Jan. 20. President Biden and Vice President Harris were sworn into office on a day full of unforgettable moments.
One of the most noteworthy aspects of the day was that former President Donald Trump did not attend the ceremony. Early that morning, Trump left the White House, where he gave a final speech at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland and then boarded Air Force One for the last time bound for Florida.
Trump is the fourth outgoing president not to attend the incoming president’s inauguration. John Adams did not attend Thomas Jefferson’s swearing-in. (1801) John Q. Adams (Son of John Adams) did not attend Andrew Jackson’s inauguration (1829) Andrew Johnson missed on Ulysses S. Grant’s swearing-in. (1869)
Our White House: An Inaugural Celebration for Young Americans was a livestreamed event hosted by actress/activist Keke Palmer. Palmer spoke with several American historians and authors before the inauguration began.
Historian David Kennedy described the tension that has been created due to former President Donald Trump’s absence at the ceremony, “A sign of just how divided the country was at those times and is now.” Kennedy refers to the mobs that invaded the US Capitol, where one group tried to disrupt the democratic process.
An inspirational moment was when Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor (nominated by former President Barack Obama in 2009), the first Latina on the supreme justice, swore in Vice President Kamala Harris, the first woman, African American of South Asian descent.
In President Biden’s inauguration address, he emphasizes the matter of change, “Today we mark the swearing-in of the first women in American history elected to the office, Vice President Kamala Harris.” Biden recalls 108 years ago, the day before Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration, when the Women’s Suffrage Parade took place.
While the women fought for their right to vote and equality, many harassed and beat the women. Police made little to no effort to intervene, and over 100 women ended up in the hospital.
A much more lighthearted moment that took over social media was the first bump exchange between President Biden and former President Barack Obama as President Biden and the first lady walked out to the ceremony. President Biden and Obama have many fun photos from the Obama administration (2008-2016), such as waving pride flags around the white house, wearing matching suits, or playing golf.
Olivia Rodrigo, a 17-year-old Asian American singer, and actress spoke briefly during the Our White House’s livestream. Rodrigo was the first-ever Asian American to reach number one on the Apple Music Top 100 Global chart and became an inspiration for many teens across the nation. Rodrigo encouraged teens to get involved in their government and be aware of the politics even if they’re not yet eligible to vote.
Celebrity performances were made by Lady Gaga, who sang the national anthem before Vice President Harris was sworn in. Jennifer Lopez then came out to stage to sing “This Land is Your Land” and “America The Beautiful.” Lopez did include a line from her song, “Let’s Get Loud,” which surprised many and was quickly popularized on Twitter.
A single picture of Sen. Bernie Sanders sitting in a chair before the ceremony wearing a pair of mittens has become a meme. Edits of Bernie include him sitting in the middle of a subway, the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars, or at a Marvel Avengers meeting.
The last performer was a Black poet and social justice activist, Amanda Gorman. Gorman was named the first national youth poet laureate while studying sociology at Harvard University.
Gorman’s poem that she recited at the inauguration, “The Hill We Climb,” left a message for the country to try to do better than we were for the last four years. Gorman is the youngest person to be named National Youth Poet Laureate.
In her poem, one of her last words is, “So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left with,” which has resonated across America. Gorman’s poem emphasizes the power the country has to always try to better itself.