The Capitol. Normally, the Capitol is merely a backdrop for the inauguration ceremony, but following the January 6th insurrection exactly two weeks ago, the sight of the restored building — decked out in flags and with celebrants gathered in socially-distanced clusters on its patios and lawn — took on a special power. We haven’t yet collected ourselves from our tears of joy and celebration, but in the meantime, here are our top moments from the inauguration so far.
Lady Gaga: Mother monster poured her heart out in her emotional, soulful rendition of the country’s National Anthem. And she did it in true Gaga style, donning a red-and-black confection of a dress decked out with a golden brooch shaped like a dove pinned to her left shoulder. Paws up for America!
Kamala Harris: It was a moment made to be captured in symbols. The first woman, Black, and Southeast Asian American to be elected to the office of Vice President was fittingly sworn in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina nominated to the Supreme Court. Prior to taking her oath, Harris was escorted onto the stage by Eugene Goodman, the Capitol police officer who was videoed luring a mob away from the Senate chambers on January 6th. And the purple coat she wore — a nod to Shirley Chisholm, according to CNN’s Abby Phillips — was made by African designer Christopher John Rogers.
Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks Sing For Unity: First up was Lopez, who began her performance with Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” then transitioned into “America the Beautiful.” Brooks took the stage to perform “Amazing Grace” after Biden was sworn in and called on the audience — at the Capitol and at home — to sing the final stanza along with him “as one, united.”
Joe Biden Becomes 46th President: After taking the oath of office, Biden delivered a speech calling for unity while also acknowledging the reality of the currents running through America today.
“I know speaking of unity may sound to some like a foolish fantasy these days,” he said. “I know the forces that divide us are deep and they are real. But I also know that they are not new. 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, demonization have long torn us apart. The battle is perennial, and victory is never assured. Through 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 — enough of us — have come together to carry all of us forward. If we can do that now, history, faith, and reason will show the way, the way of unity.”
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Amanda Gorman Promises a Way Forward: America’s first-ever Youth Poet Laureate delivered a powerful performance of her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” offering up hope for the future yet to be.
“We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace, and the norms and notions of what just is isn’t always justice,” she said. “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.”