(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — President Joe Biden is now the 46th president of the United States.
Biden took the presidential oath of office at noon, administered by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. Earlier in the inauguration ceremony, Vice President Kamala Harris took the oath of office, becoming the first woman, the first Black woman and first South Asian American to assume the office of vice president.
In what he called his first official act as president, Biden called for the nation to join him “in a moment of silent prayer to remember all those who we lost in this past year to the pandemic, those 400,000 fellow Americans — moms, dads, husbands, wives, sons, daughters, friends, neighbors and co-workers.” Biden added, “We’ll honor them by becoming the people and the nation we know we can and should be.” Biden has declared that his immediate top priority in the Oval Office will be to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
Biden took a moment to highlight the historic nature of Vice President Kamala Harris’ swearing in. “Here we stand, looking out on the great mall where Dr. King spoke of his dream. Here we stand where, 108 years ago at another inaugural, thousands of protesters tried to block brave women marching for the right to vote. And today, we mark the swearing of the first woman in American history elected to national office, Vice President Kamala Harris,” said Biden, adding, “Don’t tell me things can’t change.”
President Biden also referenced the current divisiveness in America, epitomized by the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. “We’ve learned again that democracy is precious,” Biden said, standing on the Capitol steps. “Democracy is fragile. And at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.”
In calling for unity, Biden declared, “The answer is not to turn inward, to retreat into competing factions, distrusting those who don’t look like you or worship the way you do or don’t get their news from the same source as you do. We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus — rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal.”
Biden also quoted President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 inaugural address, delivered in the midst of the Civil War, in declaring “My whole soul is in it. Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this: bringing America together, uniting our people, uniting our nation. And I ask every American to join me in this cause.”
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