The First of Many: Ushering in a Historic Era

By Suzannah Young

On Jan. 20, President Joe Biden was sworn into office at the country’s 46th presidential inauguration. Despite the many ceremonies the United States has had, the 2021 inauguration at the nation’s Capitol building contained many “firsts” for the United States.

Photo Credit to Los Angeles Times

A small "first" is that Joe Biden, age 78, became the oldest president to ever be sworn into office.

More notably, this ceremony gave the country one of the biggest firsts it’s ever had—the first Black, female Vice President.

This was also the first inauguration where social distancing and face masks were required. Due to the global pandemic and the violent siege of the capitol building on Jan. 6, the public was encouraged to enjoy the event virtually, and Congress invitations were reduced to one guest per member.

This year’s inauguration had just 1,000 guests in attendance. Compared to Obama’s 2009 inauguration, which contained approximately 1.8 million people, according to The New York Times, this year’s ceremony seems to be one of the smallest in modern history.

Photo Credit to The Guardian

Despite the small audience and tight security, the theme of the event, “America United,” was eminent.

In his inaugural speech, President Biden said, “To overcome these challenges...It requires that most elusive of things in a democracy: unity. Unity.”

His message impacted junior public relations major Jada Mohammed, who admires Biden and Harris’ compassion. When they took the time to acknowledge COVID-19 victims, Mohammed appreciated their effort to emphasize the importance of all lives, and even believed they were setting a precedent.

“I think the most important parts included President Biden and the Harris family showing humanity,” said Mohammed. “It’s been a long time since this country had a leader with empathy.”

Shaneiya Harris, a sophomore English major, agrees. Harris also enjoyed the inauguration because of its diversity.

“The amount of representation for what we call the melting pot was what made this inauguration so different from the others,” Harris said. “With all the different racial backgrounds, unique age groups, etc., there was something for everyone to enjoy.”

Photo Credit to The New York Times

The diversity of the audience played a key role in communicating the message of unity. Former Vice President Mike Pence attended the ceremony, demonstrating public bi-partisan support for the new administration.

Other notable attendees of the event were former presidents Barack Obama, George Bush, and Bill Clinton. The three men made a joint speech in support of President Biden. The speech was delivered via a video message.

"I think the fact that the three of us are standing here talking about a peaceful transfer of power speaks to the institutional integrity of our country," former Republican President Bush said in the video, alongside democrats Obama and Clinton.