January 20, 2021
A few minutes before the clock struck noon on a breezy winter day on January 20, Joseph R. Biden Jr stood on a podium in front of a small crowd of dignified former and current U.S. elected leaders, families and friends that gathered on the South front of the Capitol Hill. He raised his right hand and placed his left hand on a bulky 127 years old family heirloom bible that his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, was holding as he recited the scared Presidential Oath being read to him by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.
“I have just taken the sacred oath— an oath first sworn by George Washington,” said the newly sworn President Joe Biden a few minutes later in his first address to the nation as the 46th United States President.
“This is America’s day. This is democracy’s day. A day of history and hope. Of renewal and resolve. Through a crucible for the ages, America has been tested anew and America has risen to the challenge. Today, we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate, but of a cause, the cause of democracy,” said President Biden.
“The will of the people has been heard and the will of the people has been heeded. We have learned again that democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile. And at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed. So now, on this hallowed ground where just days ago violence sought to shake this Capitol’s very foundation, we come together as one nation, under God, indivisible, to carry out the peaceful transfer of power as we have for more than two centuries. We look ahead in our uniquely American way – restless, bold, optimistic – and set our sights on the nation we know we can be and we must be,” President Biden stated, and with those words, herald in a new era, a new chapter in America’s history.
President Biden’s call for national unity, healing, restoration comes after a tumultuous and eventful two weeks that shook the nation’s core to its bare democratic values and foundation.
On January 6, hundreds of rioters attempted to carry out an act on insurrection on the U.S. government as members of the United States Congress gathered at the Senate Chamber to tally and certify the Electoral College votes that will officiate then President-elect Biden as the winner of the 2020 Presidential election. The event was incited by the rhetoric of the incumbent President Trump, who lost his bid for a second term in office.
The event, which left six people dead and many more injured, left many Americans agape and feeling distressed, and the international community as well as U.S. allies flabbergasted. The insurrection that took place on Jan. 6 and the subsequent impeachment of President Trump for the second time by Congress that followed a week later, predicated on four years of political and moral disarray during the Trump presidency as well as precipitated from several decades of systemic discriminations and inequalities in the American society.
“Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we are all created equal and the harsh, ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear, and demonization have long torn us apart,” noted Biden in his inaugural speech. “The battle is perennial. Victory is never assured. Through the Civil War, the Great Depression, World War, 9/11, through struggle, sacrifice, and setbacks, our “better angels” have always prevailed. In each of these moments, enough of us came together to carry all of us forward. And, we can do so now. History, faith, and reason show the way, the way of unity. We can see each other not as adversaries but as neighbors. We can treat each other with dignity and respect. We can join forces, stop the shouting, and lower the temperature. For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury. No progress, only exhausting outrage. No nation, only a state of chaos.”
“I hope we can move forward. Children are lacking hope, I need for [President Biden] to address the blatant racism and bigotry that the country has heard and experienced in the past four years, I need my children to feel that anything they want is possible to them, no matter the color of their skin, or who they love,” said Lillian, a Brooklynite woman who only gave her first name.
“In a way, Trump did us a favor because so much was hidden but Trump showed us that as a nation we have not moved pass our past sins and where we were as a nation in moving forward,” she added.
The themes of bridging the division, moving the nation forward and changing bad paradigm echoed throughout President Biden’s 21 minutes speech. He urged the nation to join his administration on their journey as they work for the nation to tackle some of these challenges over the next four years.
“This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and 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. We have never, ever, ever failed in America when we have acted together. And so today, at this time and in this place, let us start afresh,” said President Biden.
A retired engineer from New York said a swift drastic change is needed to move the nation away from four years of toxicity under the Trump presidency. “People are looking forward to the normalcy of the Biden presidency. He will avoid gloating and divisiveness. Trump did accomplish something, but it was clouded by his toxic rhetorics and chaotic manner of conducting presidential business,” said the retired engineer. “We need change, it’s going to be drastic and swift.”
President Biden plans to begin that swift change in leadership paradigm immediately when he arrive at the Oval office at the White House later today by signing Executive Orders that will put the nation on the path of tackling the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic using science-based solutions, remove discriminatory travel bans, reinstate the U.S. in the Paris Climate Agreement, and provide reliefs to Americans that are struggling with food insecurity, and economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. While he acknowledged that the work ahead for his administration would be arduous in trying to restore public trust and confident in the government, heal and move the country forward, he also noted that as one nation of unity, much can be accomplished.
“My fellow Americans, I close today where I began, with a sacred oath. Before God and all of you, I give you my word. I will always level with you. I will defend the Constitution. I will defend our democracy. I will defend America. I will give my all in your service thinking not of power, but of possibilities. Not of personal interest, but of the public good,” President Biden pledged.
“Together, we shall write an American story of hope, not fear. Of unity, not division. Of light, not darkness. An American story of decency and dignity. Of love and of healing. Of greatness and of goodness. May this be the story that guides us. The story that inspires us. The story that tells ages yet to come that we answered the call of history. We met the moment. That democracy and hope, truth and justice, did not die on our watch but thrived. That our America secured liberty at home and stood once again as a beacon to the world. That is what we owe our forebearers, one another, and generations to follow. So, with purpose and resolve we turn to the tasks of our time. Sustained by faith. Driven by conviction. And, devoted to one another and to this country we love with all our hearts,” the President noted and concluded, underscoring the challenges ahead for his administration and the nation, and the needs for national unity.