Anything But Ordinary

Distinguishing the 59th Presidential Inauguration from years past


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OFFICIALLY IN OFFICE. Today, President Joseph R. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were sworn into office at the 59th Presidential Inauguration. From limited attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic to the first woman and woman of color to hold the office of the vice president, today’s inauguration will be remembered in more ways than one. To read more about some of the unique aspects of the day, keep reading!

   Today, President Joseph R. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were sworn into office at an inauguration ceremony that will go down in history in more ways than one.

   Of course, an obvious difference between today’s ceremony and those of the last few presidents was the crowd—specifically, the lack of one. Instead of an enormous swath of people, The National Mall held close to 200,000 flags representing those unable to attend the inauguration due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Increased security in response to the Capitol violence on Jan. 6 also curtailed the typically large crowd.

   In terms of limited attendance, the 59th Presidential Inauguration also marked the first time in 152 years that a departing president did not attend their successor’s inauguration.  Former President Donald Trump left the White House shortly after 8 a.m. and was already in Florida at his private club in Palm Beach when Biden was sworn in.

   The ceremony also made history with Amanda Gorman, the youngest inaugural poet ever, reciting her poem entitled “The Hill We Climb.” While referencing some of the struggles the nation has endured recently, such as the violence at the Capitol, Gorman successfully captured something we are all in desperate need of: hope.

   “What I really aspire to do in the poem is to be able to use my words to envision a way in which our country can still come together and can still heal,” Gorman said, to the New York Times.

   However, perhaps one of the most notable elements of today’s inauguration was Vice President Harris becoming the first woman and the first woman of color to hold the office of the vice president. Many were excited and supportive of this barrier-breaking milestone, including Hillary Clinton, the only woman to receive a major party’s presidential nomination.

   “It delights me to think that what feels historical and amazing to us today—a woman sworn in to the vice presidency—will seem normal, obvious, “of course” to Kamala’s grand nieces as they grow up. And they will be right,” Clinton said in a tweet on Wednesday.

   The ceremonies concluded with yet another altered tradition: a shortened presidential parade with a virtual “Parade Across America.” The hour-long event included several performing groups, making for a total of 1,391 participants, 95 horses, and nine dogs in the parade.

   After the inauguration festivities, President Biden began his presidency by signing 17 executive orders, memorandums, and proclamations. In comparison, Trump signed one executive order during his first day in office. Among Biden’s orders were to rejoin the Paris Climate Accord and a national mask mandate that will require masks and physical distancing in all federal buildings, on all federal lands, and by all federal employees. 

   With an eventful inauguration day coming to a close, many Americans wonder what challenges lie on the road ahead. However, as President Biden said in his inaugural address, “To overcome these challenges—to restore the soul and to secure the future of America—requires more than words. It requires that most elusive of things in a democracy: Unity. Unity.”

**Sources: CNN, The New York Times, AP News, NBC News