2021 Inauguration Day: What is different about this year?

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The 2021 inauguration was held at the US Capitol Building

Calla Reynolds, Website Editor

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were sworn into office on Jan. 20. Their inauguration was held outside of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., with a limited audience due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Traditionally, presidential inaugurations have a celebratory parade marching down Pennsylvania Avenue, but this year the parade was mostly virtual. Though that was not the only difference in President Biden and Vice President Harris’ inauguration. A difference that was unsurprising to some U.S. citizens was former president Donald Trump’s missing appearance. This was the first time in over 150 years the former president of the United States did not welcome the new president at the inauguration. This is only one example of how this inauguration was unique compared to the others. 

After a mob of pro-Trump extremists stormed the Capitol two weeks prior to the inauguration, security at the building tightened for this ceremony. The FBI forewarned everyone of the probable armed protests surrounding the Capitol on Jan. 20, only to be flabbergasted at the peaceful transition of power. In addition to this, the decreased attendance at the inauguration ceremony due to the pandemic made the task of security that much more efficient. 

As mentioned, the coronavirus pandemic limited the attendance at the important occasion on Wednesday. The audience was down to 1,000- not including the 20,000 National Guard members- this year, which is a significant gap compared to former presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremonies. The National Mall was occupied with an art display that was named the “Field of Flags,” representing the Americans that couldn’t attend. The mirthful parades that arise after presidents are sworn into office had a slight change this year as well. Biden’s “parade across America” had a substantial virtual setting, unlike the traditional march down Pennsylvania Avenue. 

The series of events unfolded smoothly on Wednesday. At the beginning of the day, President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden spent their morning at the Blair House before attending a morning church service at St. Matthew’s Cathedral.

Later that morning, Kamala Harris was sworn in as vice president by Justice Sonia Sotomayor at 11:15. Lady Gaga sang the national anthem after Harris took her oath as vice president, followed by performances from Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks.

At noon, Chief Justice John Roberts swore Biden in as the 46th president, Biden then delivered his inaugural address to the U.S. citizens. President Biden and Vice President Harris, joined by their spouses, conducted a review of military troops, an Inauguration Day tradition.

Soon after 2 p.m., former presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and former first ladies Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, and Michelle Obama met Biden and Harris at Arlington National Cemetery for a ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Finally, at 3:15 p.m., the virtual inauguration parade took place as Biden and Harris got a military escort down to the White House. Finishing the day, the president signed 15 executive orders in the Oval Office. He also wished for immediate termination of Trump’s border wall, along with requirements for masks and social distancing, providing support to underserved communities, and connecting back to the Paris Agreement on climate change. 

Despite the noticeable differences presented in the 2021 inauguration, that does not take away the importance of the event. America welcomes President Biden, Vice President Harris, and their message of promised unity in the office.