Pomp, circumstance, (some) former presidents, and Hollywood celebs will all be primed and ready to celebrate in front of no crowds (because 'security' and social-distancing) as Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States under the theme "America United".
As was the case with previous inaugurations, most of Congress and the Supreme Court are expected to be in attendance, as are some former presidents. Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton are all set to attend, as are former first ladies Michelle Obama, Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton. Jimmy Carter, the country's oldest living former president, at 96, and former first lady Rosalynn Carter will not be there, but they sent their "best wishes." The inauguration is the first they have missed since Carter was sworn in in 1977.
Also absent will be Trump, making him the first president to skip his successor's inauguration since Andrew Johnson in 1869. He flew to Florida on Air Force One for the last time on Wednesday morning. Vice President Mike Pence will attend the inauguration.
It’s a new day in America.— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) January 20, 2021
A new day indeed...
Watch Live (events are due to start at 11amET):
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Here's what to expect: (via NBC News):
The proceedings will begin with an invocation by the Rev. Leo J. O'Donovan, a Jesuit priest who is the former president of Georgetown University and a close friend of the Biden family. Andrea Hall, the first African American female firefighter to become captain of the Fire Rescue Department in South Fulton, Georgia, will recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
Lady Gaga - who teamed with Biden on domestic violence issues when he was vice president and campaigned for him in the 2020 election — will sing the national anthem.
Amanda Gorman, who became the country's first Youth Poet Laureate in 2017, will read a poem she has written for the occasion called "The Hill We Climb." Like Biden, Gorman had a speech impediment that she has worked hard to overcome. She has also announced plans to run for president herself in 2036 — the first election she'll be old enough to do so.
A longtime friend of the Biden family, the Rev. Silvester Beaman, pastor of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Delaware, will deliver a benediction.
As is tradition, the Supreme Court's chief justice, John Roberts, will administer the oath of office to Biden just after the clock strikes 12. Biden will take the oath with his hand on top of his 127-year-old, 5-inch-thick family Bible, which will be held by his wife, Jill Biden.
In an address after he’s sworn in, Biden will call on Americans to bring the country together during an unprecedented crisis, according to advisers to the president-elect who asked not to be identified ahead of the speech. He’ll ask every citizen to meet what the advisers called an extraordinary challenge facing the nation, in a speech they said would be built around the theme of unity. The address will be 20 to 30 minutes long, according to a person familiar with the matter who also asked not to be identified.
What will be most evident, aside from the lack of crowds, will be the plethora of security. Historically, inaugurations have always seen heavy security but Washington has never experienced an operation on this scale before. Around 8,000 Guard members were deployed for Trump's inauguration ceremony in 2016 in addition to the regular Secret Service and law enforcement presence. Biden's inauguration, on the other hand, has a stunning 25,000-plus National Guard members - that's five times the troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan combined where approximately 2,500 service members are still serving, according to a recent Department of Defense announcement. 900 U.S. troops are aso reportedly still on the ground in Syria.
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As shocking as these security arrangements are, however, they do graphically illustrate the scale of division in the U.S. today as the country prepares for the first term of President Biden.
“It has been the most tense, contentious transition since the post-Civil War era,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a politics professor at the University of Houston.
“The expectation of the political system is that there be a smooth transition and minimal friction. We’ve obviously seen that shattered.”
But, as Biden said above "it's a new day" right?