A slight flurry of snow fell onto the inauguration stand as dignitaries filed in, but skies cleared and sun shone brightly as President Joe R. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were sworn in Wednesday to lead the United States.
In stark contrast to the inaugural speech given four years prior, the 46th president focused on unity and hope.
Invoking President Abraham Lincoln, Biden said:
“‘My whole soul is in it.’ Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this: bringing America together, uniting our people, uniting our nation. And I ask every American to join me in this cause.”
In a long list of ways Wednesday marked the beginning of a new era, the nation just witnessed the first woman be sworn in as vice president. Harris, hailing from the East Bay, fills that place in history.
With former President Donald Trump gone hours ahead of the ceremony, new leadership was sworn in from the same space attacked exactly two weeks prior at the U.S. Capitol.
Yet the normalcy of the day and traditions upheld were striking, with officials from both sides of the party line present to watch the peaceful transfer of power that has been the hallmark of American democracy.
While Biden’s speech was filled with resolve and hope, it was Amanda Gorman, the first National Youth Poet Laureate, who encompassed that message best. She recited “The Hill We Climb” as the nation and world watched on, saying:
“Where can find light in this never-ending shade? And yet, the dawn is ours before we knew it. Somehow we do it. Somehow we weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken but simply unfinished.”