After a grueling November 2020 election and harrowing transitional period, it's finally happening — former VP Joe Biden has officially been inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States. At his Jan. 20 inauguration, he started off his presidency with an inspiring message to the nation. Joe Biden’s 2021 inauguration speech was a refreshing return to normalcy as he called out white supremacy and placed the country's unity at the forefront — and honestly, that's just what Americans need to hear at a time like this.
Biden began with positive sentiments people have come to expect from the new president, according to a transcript of the speech in The Telegraph, "This is America's day. This is democracy's day. A day of history and hope, of renewal and resolve." He continued, "The people — the will of the people — has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded."
About halfway through his speech, President Biden called for unity and a deescalation of emotions: "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." He added, "Without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury."
His Jan. 20 address at the U.S. Capitol comes only two weeks after a mob of rioting Trump supporters staged an attack, putting the lives of congressional lawmakers — and American democracy — in grave jeopardy, and people seemed relieved to have someone with a sense of calm at the helm of the nation.
Even though this speech didn't quite shock anyone, people loved the predictability.
While Biden tried to stay positive, he didn't avoid the current reality.
"I know that the forces that divide us are deep and they are real. But I also know they are not new. Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we all are created equal, and the harsh ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear, demonization have long torn us apart," he said, calling attention to America's deeply rooted systemic racism.
"A cry for racial justice, some 400 years in the making, moves us ... [there's] a rise of political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism, that we must confront and we will defeat," he continued. Harkening back to what first drove his presidential campaign, Biden said, "To overcome these challenges, to restore the soul and secure the future of America, requires so much more than words. It requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy — unity."
Amid the chaos of the Capitol attack, along with Trump's resulting second impeachment by the House, many have lost focus on another critical issue: the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. As of Jan. 20, over 402,000 Americans have lost their lives to COVID-19, per The New York Times. The virus continues to rage across the country, and Biden made sure to address it.
"[The coronavirus] silently stalks the country," Biden said, turning his attention to the ongoing pandemic. "It's taken as many lives in one year as America lost in all of World War II. Millions of jobs have been lost, hundreds of thousands of businesses closed," he added, noting how America must be united to "persevere through this dark winter."
Online audiences were quickly reminded of COVID-19's looming presence during Biden's inauguration, as the ceremony looked drastically different this year. To comply with proper health and safety protocols to prevent COVID-19 from spreading, the inauguration audience was much smaller, and many traditional events were modified for online viewing. Even in the midst of such tumultuous circumstances, Biden expressed his hope for better days ahead, saying, "And together we will write an American story of hope, not fear. Of unity not division, of light not darkness. A story of decency and dignity, love and healing, greatness and goodness."