It was an inauguration ceremony unlike any the nation has witnessed. The invited guests wore masks and stayed socially distant because of a raging pandemic. The national mall was closed and guarded by thousands of National Guard troops, just two weeks after a violent mob descended on the nation’s Capitol.
The traditions of the process brought comfort to many after the tumultuous final days of the Trump administration. Here are several of the day’s most memorable moments.
Hero Cop Escorts Kamala Harris
Vice President Kamala Harris was escorted to the ceremony by Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, the hero who is credited with diverting the mob away from the Senate chamber and Vice President Mike Pence.
Goodman has since been promoted to acting deputy Senate sergeant-at-arms.
Lady Gaga, JLo and Garth Brooks Perform
The star power at the inauguration was dazzling. Lady Gaga wore a full red skirt, a gold dove brooch and belted out the National Anthem. Jennifer Lopez, all in white, sang “This Land Is Your Land,” adding in some Spanish toward the end of the song. And Garth Brooks gave a rousing a capella rendition of “Amazing Grace.”
Reminders of a Raging Pandemic
Amid the celebration, there were also constant reminders that we’re still in the middle of a pandemic that has now killed over 400,000 people.
Masks stayed on, except for the speakers. After every speaker, the podium was disinfected.
“My fellow Americans, in the work ahead of us, we're going to need each other. We need all our strength to persevere through this dark winter,” President Joe Biden said during his inaugural address. “We're entering what may be the toughest and deadliest period of the virus. We must set aside politics and finally face this pandemic as One Nation.”
Kamala Harris’s Historic Swearing In
Vice President Kamala Harris took her oath of office as the first female, first Black person and first Asian American to hold the title. She was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who is the first Latina woman to serve on the nation’s highest court.
The daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants, Harris’s swearing in was an inspiring — and emotional — moment for many.
Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman Delivers Awe-Inspiring Poem
Amanda Gorman, 22, delivered a stirring poem, “The Hill We Climb,” after Biden and Harris were sworn in. Gorman is the youngest person to deliver a poem at a U.S. inauguration. In 2017, she became the nation’s first National Youth Poet Laureate.
“We will rebuild, reconcile and recover, and every known nook of our nation and every corner called our country, our people, diverse and beautiful, will emerge, battered and beautiful,” Gorman said. “When day comes we step out of the shade, aflame and unafraid. The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.”