The world watched with great interest and expectation as America’s 46th president was sworn in during a toned-downbut meaningful inaugural program. Amidst the 200,000 state and territory flags installed at the National Mall, to represent thousands of citizens who could not attend due to the pandemic, President Biden and Kamala Harris, the first woman and black elected to the second highest post, took their oaths before Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
In his 21-minute speech, the president spoke about how America had been tested over the years and how it had risen to challenges, the triumph not of a candidate but of a cause which is democracy. He shared some lessons learned – that “democracy is fragile but it has prevailed. We still have much to do – much to repair, much to restore, much to heal, much to build.”
He said that “his whole soul is on bringing America together.” He called on every American to join him in the cause of “uniting to fight the common foes – anger, resentment, hatred, extremism, lawlessness, violence, hopelessness, joblessness.”
“Let us listen to one another; hear one another; see one another; show respect to one another. Politics need not be a raging fire, destroying everything on its path. America has to be better than this.”
“I will be a President of all Americans,” he said, as he recalled the disagreements and dissensions during his predecessor’s time. “We must end this “uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural vs. urban, conservative vs. liberal. We can do this if we open our souls, show tolerance and humility. The world is watching today. We will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again”
“Together, we shall write an American story of hope, not fear, of unity, not division, of light, not darkness. An American story of decency, dignity, of love and healing, of greatness, and of goodness. May this be the story that guides us, the story that inspires us. That we answered the call of history, that democracy did not die but thrived in our watch.”
Powerful words from a man who had experienced the depths of tragedy but had soldiered on to serve the American people for two presidential terms as vice president. And these are the ideals that he hopes would guide his administration during the next four years.
Later during the day, he signed 17 Actions, among them: rejoin climate accord; alter the course of the pandemic through new interventions, respond to racial inequalities, and stop the construction of a border wall with Mexico.
The audience welcomed the beautiful rendition of the National Anthem by Lady Gaga as well as a Medley of Patriotic Songs by Jennifer Lopez, and “Amazing Grace” by Garth Brooks. But the star of the hour was 22-year- old Amanda Gorman, Harvard graduate, youngest inaugural poet in US history and youngest poet laureate, who was both amazing and inspiring in her reading of a poem that she had written – “The Hill We Climb.” In the poem, she called on Americans to acknowledge the country’s complicated past and to move forward with hope and unity. Similar to President Biden’s address, her poem “envisions a way in which the country can still come together and heal.”
Here are some excerpts:
“When day comes, we ask ourselves, where can we find light in the never-ending shade,
The loss we carry, a sea we must wade,
We’ve braved the belly of the beast,
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace
and the norms and notions of what just is, isn’t always justice.
That even as we grieved, we grew,
That even as we hurt, we hoped,
That even as we tired, we tried,
That we’ll be forever be tied together, victorious,
Not because we will never again know defeat,
but because we will never again sow divisions.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed,
It can never be permanently defeated.
In this truth, in this faith, we trust.
Indeed, a hopeful poem by a very talented young lady whose dream is to become a presidential candidate in Election 2036.
For many of us who watched the inaugural from 12 midnight to 2:30 the following morning, this was a moment in history that we shall always remember.
My email, [email protected]