There are hours before Joe Biden’s inauguration. He will take the oath around 6 p.m. Polish time. Therefore, in Washington, the last preparations for the ceremony are underway, which this year – due to the pandemic and the recent unrest on the Capitol Hill – will take a different course than before.
Joe Biden is sworn in as US President due to the pandemic and the Capitol riots of January 6, going differently than tradition dictates. There will be no crowds. For security reasons, 26,000 soldiers of the National Guard were mobilized. There will be fewer accompanying events.
As reported by TVN24 reporter Michał Sznajder, concrete barriers and a special tent were set up in front of the Capitol, in which every person who is to participate in the ceremony will be checked. There are also armored vehicles near the place where Biden will take the oath.
Celebration without Trump
The departing person will not take part in the ceremony President Donald Trump, who in the last hours of his office decided to pardon over 70 people, including his former adviser Steve Bannon.
The last time this happened after the end of Andrew Johnson’s tenure in 1869.
Inauguration different from all previous ones
Typically, the swearing-in ceremony is accompanied by around 20,000 invited guests. Crowds are also gathering on the grounds of the National Mall that divide the Capitol from the Lincoln Memorial. This time, due to COVID-19 and the recent crowd incursion into the Congress building, there has been a break with tradition.
The relatively few guests at the ceremony will include former presidents and members of Congress, among others. The latter can only invite one guest.
Many of the events surrounding the seizure of power have been canceled or scheduled online.
A busy day for a new president and a new vice president
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will start their day at 2:45 PM Polish time in the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington. Less than two hours later, as expected, they will arrive in front of Congress, where the swearing-in ceremony will begin around 5:15 PM Polish time.
At the request of the president-elect, a prayer will be said here by a Jesuit, Father Professor Leo O’Donovan, a friend of Jan Karski and the Biden family.
23-year-old Amanda Gorman will deliver her poem “The Hill We Climb”. She is the youngest poet to be honored to perform at the presidential swearing-in ceremony. Like Biden, Gorman had problems with stuttering as a child. Apart from her passion for poetry, she is also socially involved and has already announced her participation in the presidential election in 2036.
According to tradition, around noon (6 p.m. Polish time), the President of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, will take the presidential oath. Biden folds it by placing his hand on the 127-year-old Bible that his wife Jill has been holding, which has belonged to his family for generations.
“When I die, Delaware will be written on my heart”
On Tuesday, Biden spoke to the people of Delaware.
“Forgive my emotion, but when I die, Delaware will be written on my heart.” And on the hearts of everyone in the Biden family. We love you. Because you are with us for better and for worse. You never left us. It’s my pride to be a son of the state of Delaware. My only regret is that my son Beau is no longer with us. He should become the president of our country – said clearly touched Biden, referring to the death of his son, who died in 2015 from brain cancer.
Changing of the guard at the White House
Kamala Harris, the first woman, the first black person, and the first Asian person to become US vice president, will be sworn in by Judge Sonia Sotomayor.
After the swearing-in, Biden will speak. The theme of his first speech as president of the United States will be “United America.” In addition to appeals for the unity of the nation, the democrat is to present his vision of recovering the country from the coronavirus epidemic.
After the ceremony, Biden and Harris will watch the military parade at 7:40 PM Polish time. They will then go to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery, where they will lay a wreath with the Obamas, Bushes and Clintons.
From Arlington, Biden and Harris will head to the White House. The first executive regulations are to be signed here at 11:15 PM Polish time.
Over 200 years of tradition
The swearing-in ceremony and the accompanying events changed over time. George Washington was sworn in at Federal Hall in New York and John Adams at the Chamber of Congress Hall in Philadelphia. Thomas Jefferson was the first US president to be sworn in at the Washington Capitol.
Washington was sworn in on April 30, 1789. In the 19th century, the inauguration day was March 4. Following the ratification of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution in 1933, beginning with Franklin D. Roosevelt’s second term in office, the swearing-in takes place at noon on January 20.
Most presidents took an oath on the Bible. Jimmy Carter brought a Bible that belonged to his family, John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic elected President, used a Catholic one, and Barack Obama and Trump used an Abraham Lincoln Bible. Lyndon B. Johnson asked his wife, Lady Bird, to hold the Bible while she was swearing. Franklin Pierce said, “I affirm” instead of “I swear”. He also created a precedent by not kissing the Bible.
Chester Arthur, Calvin Coolidge, and Obama repeated the oath ceremony. In the case of the first black president, it was because the sworn Supreme Court president John Roberts had confused the content.
After Kennedy’s assassination, then Vice President Johnson was the only one to swear the oath aboard an Air Force One plane bound for Washington. There was a dead president in the machine.
Washington gave the shortest opening address of 135 words. The longest, William Henry Harrison, contained over 8,400 words.
Thomas Jefferson traveled from the Capitol to the White House on foot. Jimmy Carter left the limousine about 1.5 miles outside the White House and marched the rest of the distance.
The oldest US president in history
Biden, 78, will begin the presidency as the oldest man in US history. Trump was 70 at his inauguration, and Ronald Reagan was 69. The youngest were Theodore Roosevelt, 42, Kennedy, 43, and Ulysses Grant and Bill Clinton, 46. 45 presidents were sworn in before Biden.
Main photo source: Reuters