With democracy and diversity as his anthem song, Joseph R. Biden, Jr., was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States, on January 20 at an elegantly choreographed ceremony at the Capitol in Washington DC. In a soaring speech, Mr Biden exhorted a bitterly divided country to come together at a perilous time in American history while moving quickly to begin implementing his agenda from day one.”This is America’s day; this is democracy’s day, the day of history and hope. Today we celebrate a triumph, not of a candidate, but of a cause. We have learned again that democracy is precious, democracy is fragile. At this hour my friends, Democracy has prevailed”, said the newly-elected US President.
Mr Joe Biden’s arrival at the White House for the first time as the President was followed by a band playing the “Hail to the Chief” and “God Bless America”. The inauguration marked a series of firsts for the United States, from the country’s oldest president to its first woman vice president, and the youngest poet to perform at the ceremony. President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, the first Indian-origin American to occupy this office, were joined by three former presidents — Barack Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton — at a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.
Former First Ladies Michelle Obama, Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton were also seen at the event. Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez were seen striking the patriotic chord, with Ms Gaga becoming the voice of democracy with a rendition of the national anthem. Biden and his deputy Kamala Harris led a national mourning service in Washington to pay tribute to those who lost their lives due to COVID-19.
“A sober and reflective Mr Biden looked presidential at his inauguration ceremony, unlike his immediate predecessor who was infamous for his antics,” said Manish Chand, Editor-in-Chief, India Writes Network and India and the World magazine.“Mr Biden’s speech was that of a statesman and an ardent patriot who wish to heal the country polarized by the divisive politics of Mr Trump. Biden’s overarching presidential goal is to restore Brand America that was sullied by Mr Trump’s whims and quirks,” Mr Chand, a long-standing observer of the American political scene, said.
Biden calls for unity
In his 21-minute speech, Mr Biden called for unity in the aftermath of Capitol riots unleashed by supporters of a defiant Donald Trump, as he took oath amid grave security concerns. “Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we all are created equal and the harsh ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear, demonisation have long torn us apart. The battle is perennial, and victory is never assured”, he added.
“This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge,” Mr Biden said in his inaugural speech that called on America to end its “uncivil war” and embrace a united front amid a series of daunting crises. “Unity is the path forward. And we must meet this moment as the United States of America. If we do that, I guarantee you we will not fail.” He has promised to undo much of President Trump’s legacy and restore what he refers to as “the soul of America” by proving that the past four years represented an aberration rather than an enduring rift in the national fabric. “We’ve learned again that democracy is precious, democracy is fragile — and at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed,” Mr Biden said during his speech.
“A cry for racial justice, some 400 years in the making, moves us,” he said. “The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer. The cry for survival comes from planet itself, a cry that can’t be any more desperate or any more clear. And now a rise of political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism that we must confront and we will defeat.”
Seeking to reverse Trump’s America First dogmatism, President Biden has pledged to address issues like climate change and racial justice. Referring to his deputy, Mr Biden said, “Today, we marked the swearing-in of the first woman in the American history elected to national office – vice president Kamala Harris. Don’t tell me things can’t change.”
Highlighting the recent attack at the US Capitol, he said, “Here we stand just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground. It did not happen. It will never happen. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Not ever. “The inaugural ceremony concluded with a benediction by Reverend Silvester Beaman. Mr Biden then left the ceremony as “The Stars and Stripes Forever” played. He hugged Barack Obama as he walked out.
(Palak Chhabra contributed inputs for this article; edited by Shweta Aggarwal)
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