Democracy has prevailed: Biden sworn in as 46th US President
More than two months after he won the election, on the promise of healing a broken nation, Democrat Joe Biden was sworn-in as the 46th President of United States of America in Washington DC. With his inauguration ceremony, America also got its first female Vice-President Kamala Harris. The ceremony was not attended by outgoing President Donald Trump or his wife Melania.
Biden administered oath by Supreme Court Chief Justice
Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was administered the oath by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts as his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, held the Bible. Notably, the Bible has been in Biden's family since 1893 and was used during his swearing-in ceremonies as Vice-President in the Obama administration. At 78, Biden has become the oldest person to be sworn in as the US President.
'Democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile'
During his inaugural address, Biden said, "We've learned again that democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile. And at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed." Biden said America "must confront" white supremacy. "The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer," he said, stressing the importance of unity. Pointing to Harris, he said, "Don't tell me things can't change."
'We'll repair our alliances and engage with the world again'
"We'll press forward with speed and urgency," Biden said. "We've much to do in this winter of peril and significant opportunities." Biden recalled the perils in history—the Civil War, the Great Depression, the World Wars, 9/11—"our better angels have always prevailed." "We'll repair our alliances and engage with the world once again, not to meet yesterday's challenges but today's and tomorrow's challenges," he said.
Harris sworn-in as first woman, African-American, Asian American VP
As she was sworn-in as Vice-President, Kamala Devi Harris became the first woman, the first African-American, and the first Asian-American to serve in the role. Harris's husband, lawyer Doug Emhoff, held the Bible as she took the oath of office. The 56-year-old was sworn-in by Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina to serve on the US Supreme Court.
Inauguration comes two weeks after Capitol insurrection
Just two weeks ago, Washington witnessed an attack unseen in American modern history, with a pro-Trump mob defiling the seat of democracy, the Capitol. The attack was condemned by world leaders and Democrats said it was Trump's baseless claims that led to it. In view of the attack, Washington DC was turned into a fortress. Nearly 25,000 troops watched over the inauguration ceremony.
Ex-US Presidents attended the function, celebrities were also spotted
Though Trump declared his intentions, his deputy and trusted lieutenant Mike Pence attended the function, as did former Presidents George W Bush, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and a number of politicians. The celebrities in attendance included Lady Gaga, Tom Hanks, Jennifer Lopez, and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Gaga sang the American National Anthem, while Lopez also performed 'This Land is Your Land' and 'America the Beautiful'.
Flags represented citizens from different states, territories
The event was scaled down in view of the coronavirus pandemic and security threats. The National Mall, which would have hosted hundreds of supporters, was reportedly covered with 200,000 flags and 56 pillars of light to represent people from different states and territories.
Ancestral village of Harris's family also celebrated inauguration
Thousands of kilometers away from the US, a small village in India, that is the ancestral home of Harris's maternal family, also lit up in celebrations. In Thulasenthirapuram-Painganaadu, in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, residents did a special puja at the Sri Dharmasastha Temple. They also distributed ladoos and burst crackers. Reportedly, Harris's kin had donated money to the temple's trust in 2014.
Trump had held early morning farewell ceremony for himself today
Earlier in the day, Trump had held a farewell ceremony for himself at Joint Base Andrews. "This has been an incredible four years. We accomplished so much together," Trump said at the event, thanking his family, friends, and staff. "I will always fight for you. I will be watching, listening," he said, wishing "great luck and success" to the Biden administration.
Biden will halt construction of wall, revoke travel ban
Earlier, Biden's aides said one of the first things he would do is rebuilt his association with the Paris climate accord and the World Health Organization, reversing Trump's actions as he believed the US was being treated unfairly. He would also end the ban on visitors from a couple of Muslim-majority nations and will stop the construction of the wall along the US-Mexico border.
Masks to be made mandatory to stem coronavirus spread
Biden, who took charge when deaths in the US due to COVID-19 topped 400,000, would also make it mandatory to wear masks on federal properties. On Tuesday, along with First Lady Jill Biden, he led a moving tribute for those who died, saying, "It's hard sometimes to remember, but that's how we heal. It's important to do that as a nation."