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Joe Biden Becomes the 46th United States President

Last updated on January 21, 2021

Kamala Harris becomes the 49th United States Vice President

President Biden being sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. Photo Credit: Erin Schaff for The New York Times

On January 20, 2021, at 11:49 AM ET, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. swore the presidential oath, officially becoming the 46th United States President; Kamala D. Harris became the 49th United States Vice President. The inauguration was an unusual ceremony due to limited capacity from COVID-19 and increased security in anticipation of an attack similar to the capitol assault two weeks ago. 400,000 flags were placed along the reflection pool in front of the Washington memorial to mourn the 400,000 Americans that died from COVID-19.

After a controversial period from the certification of the electoral college to the inauguration, the peaceful transfer of power, a hallmark of American democracy, prevailed. Former President Trump left the ceremony for Florida a few hours before the inauguration, while Former Vice President Mike Pence attended.

Prior to the Vice President’s inaugural address, a message of unity was constantly promoted, claiming that this was to be a celebration of democracy rather than of a specific political party. At 11:30 AM ET, Rev Leo J. O’Donovan, a Jesuit priest, gave a five-minute invocation. The singing of the national anthem by Lady Gaga and the pledge of allegiance followed.

At 11:42 AM ET, Justice Sonia Sotomayor administered the Vice Presidential oath to Vice President Kamala Harris, making her the first African-American, Asian-American, and female US vice president.

After, Jennifer Lopez sang “This Land is Your Land.”

At 11:49 AM ET, Chief Justice John Roberts administered the presidential oath of office to Joe Biden.

“This is America’s day,” The new president said as he began his first presidential address to the nation. “This is democracy’s day.” Although American democracy was attacked, Biden said in his address, “Democracy has prevailed.”

“Few people in our nation’s history have been more challenged or found a time more challenging or difficult than the time we’re in now,” Mr. Biden said.

He went on, “To overcome these challenges, to restore the soul and secure the future of America, requires so much more than words and requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy: unity.”

“Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire, destroying everything in its path,” he said. “Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war. And we must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured.”

“Here we stand, looking out on the great Mall where Dr. King spoke of his dream,” he said. “Here we stand, where 108 years ago at another inaugural, thousands of protesters tried to block brave women marching for the right to vote. And today we mark the swearing in of the first woman in American history elected to national office, Vice President Kamala Harris. Don’t tell me things can’t change.”

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