Declarations of unity on Inauguration Day



President-elect Joe Biden congratulates Vice President Kamala Harris with a fist bump after she was sworn in during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

One looks past a great wall of steel security fence and guardsmen onto a sight of blossoming democracy in its most prevailing form. 

On Wednesday January 20th, 2021, America welcomed President-elect Joseph R. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris as they took the Oath of Office. A ceremony that took place in the same location which was two weeks earlier a crime scene decimated by angry rioters who refused to accept Trump’s defeat. 

Biden’s inauguration revolved around the unification of our nation that has suffered an increasingly stark divide. 

“The American story depends not on any one of us, not on some of us, but on all of us, on we the people who seek a more perfect union,” Biden said in his inaugural speech. 

Shortly after former President Trump left the Oval Office for good, Biden, the nation’s second Catholic president, attended mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew, the site of John F. Kennedy’s funeral. He sat at the front pew alongside Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi, and Charles Schumer, and shared a tradition of his with those he will be working closely with for the next four years. 

It did not take long for one to notice that every choice made, every action taken in the planning of this event held a deeper meaning behind it. Almost everyone on the platform wore the clothes of made-in-America designers, some being infamous staples like Ralph Lauren, and others being up and coming or minority designers like Alexandra O’Neill and Sergio Hudson. Kamala Harris made the choice to swear on two bibles, one being of the former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first black judge appointed to the highest court, and the other being of her former neighbor Regina Shelton who she considers a “second mother”. While these choices are small, they represent and embrace the diversity and inclusiveness that makes America what is it, all in an effort to bring the country together once again. 

The Biden administration is expected to uphold the expectations in which their voters have entrusted them for by kickstarting much needed change in government. His administration has already started much needed change, as it includes a face of a Vice President much different than the white men donning the role in the past. 

“Here we stand looking out on the great Mall where Dr. King spoke of his dream. 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 marked 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,” President Biden said. 

While the ceremonies remained largely celebratory, it is difficult not to acknowledge the hardships we have recently faced. Biden addressed much of these in his speech, highlighting racial injustice and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. For many Americans across the country the inauguration put an end to four years of tension and unrest, and ushered in new hope for a better, more true democracy. 

“And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it. / Somehow we do it. /Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, / but simply unfinished,” Amanda Gorman, National Youth Poet Laureate, said in “The Hill We Climb.”