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Biden takes office in peaceful transition in which massive security shares stage with tradition

"This is America’s day. This is democracy’s day" - 46th U.S. President Joe Biden

Joe Biden sworn in as U.S.'s 46th president, Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2021.
Updated: January 20, 2021 - 5:03pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook


Joe Biden was sworn in Wednesday as the United States' 46th president, taking the White House in a peaceful transition of power in which massive security shared – and sometimes overshadowed – tradition.

Biden, a Democrat, took the oath at the U.S. Capitol that 14 days earlier was besieged by demonstrators trying to stop the Electoral College certification of his victory over then-incumbent President Donald Trump, a Republican. 

"The will of the people has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded," Biden said on a blustery, Washington, D.C., morning on the west front of the Capitol building. "We’ve learned again that democracy is precious and democracy is fragile. At this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.This is America’s day. This is democracy’s day."

Biden began Inauguration Day with a prayer service at St. Matthews Church, a Catholic church just blocks from the White House. St. Matthews was the site of the state funeral for President John F. Kennedy after he was assassinated on Nov. 22, 1963.

The swearing-in ceremony at the U.S. Capitol Building featured Lady Gaga singing the national anthem and Jennifer Lopez performing a medley of "This Land was Made for You and Me" and "America the Beautiful."

The 78-year-old Biden, the oldest in the U.S. to be inaugurated, was sworn in with his hand on a five-inch-thick Bible that has been in his family for 128 years, according the Associated Press.

Kamala Harris on Wednesday became the country's first female vice president. The former senator from California is also the first black person and the first person of South Asian descent elected to the vice presidency and the highest-ranking woman ever to serve in government, the wire service also reports.

Former presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and George W. Bush along with former First Ladies Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama and Laura Bush attended the swearing-in ceremony. Vice President Mike Pence also attended the ceremony but Trump declined to participate.

Supreme Court justices at the Capitol for Biden's inauguration were Chief Justice John Roberts, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Stephen Breyer were not seen.

Traditional inauguration ceremonies were vastly scaled back as a result of the pandemic and what the FBI has described as the possibility of an armed protest.

Among the traditions cancelled are the presidential parade with well-wishers along the route and visitors allowed to watch the swearing-in from the National Mall.

Over 25,000 National Guard troops have been activated and sent to the nation's capital, as part of the massive security operation.

After the swearing-in ceremony, Biden, Harris, Clinton, Obama, Bush and their spouses participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.

Biden is expected to issue as many as 17 executive orders on his first day in office. The former senator and vice president enters the White House faced with the daunting tasks of trying to slow the coronavirus pandemic that as of this week has killed over 400,000 people in the U.S. and throttled large sectors of the U.S. economy. 


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