Clara Helm | Head Editor
January 21, 2o2o
A national guard officer wanders around a local Washington, D.C. coffee shop, looking for something to do. This was a commonplace and welcomed sight in the shutdown city that was the center of the inauguration yesterday.
A total of 25,000 national guard troops were deployed in D.C. and engaged in efforts to secure the city during yesterday’s inauguration. The event had been nervously anticipated, especially after the week’s preceding U.S. Capitol protests, yet the inauguration of President Joe Biden went off without a hitch.
Prior to the inauguration, the biggest security concern was keeping the city protected from violence with extreme vigilance. The military was not taking any chances. With vehicle checkpoints, road closures, and arrests for certain activities, the city was on high alert. Differing from President Trump’s inauguration, which brought an estimated $1 billion into the D.C. economy and offset the negatives of tight security of the city, Biden’s inauguration will not see a big boost in the economy. This is due to the virtual events and the city missing out on the usual hotel occupancy tax that they receive for National Guards staying there.
Unlike any inauguration ever before, due to Covid-19 circumstances, most of the inauguration events were planned to be virtual or socially distanced and historic events, such as the Inaugural Ball, were canceled. Tuesday evening, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke at a ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool to pay tribute to the 400,000 Americans that have died of Covid-19, while commenting on the unity and recovery that he hopes to bestow during his presidency. The theme of Biden’s inauguration that is made abundantly clear in many of his speeches is “America United.”
“The theme of President Biden’s inauguration was simple: it was an appeal to unite our deeply divided nation,” San Clemente High School senior John Koenigshofer said. “The inauguration also strongly hinted at a return to normalcy: not just the eventual end of the pandemic, but also an end to the chaos and scandal that defined the outgoing administration.”
From all across the nation, citizens watched the inaugural proceedings that started at 9 AM on January 20th. Various political representatives and leaders attended including former presidents George Bush, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and former Vice President Mike Pence. But notably absent was President Trump, who left the White House with Melania Trump on the morning of the inauguration and skipped the swearing-in event, going against decades of tradition. Biden chose to ignore this absence in his speech and continue on with his main themes of unity and restoration.
After being officially sworn-in as the 46th President of the United States, the presidential inauguration speech commenced. Throughout the speech, Biden interspersed the idea that democracy and our system of government have triumphed over threats while acknowledging that victory isn’t final. In his most prominent appeal for unity, Biden said “And we must meet this moment as the United States of America. If we do that, I guarantee you we will not fail. We have never, ever, ever, ever failed in America when we’ve acted together.” This unity will not be something that is easily made though—not only because of the faction of the Republican Party that remains loyal to Trump, but because of the nearly even split between parties in Congress.
The Senate is 50-50 in terms of representation, and the House is the closest it’s been in about two decades, which makes it hard for legislation to pass through the political middle. While the tone of most of the inauguration coverage from the media will most likely isolate a large portion of the population, Biden brings hope to the idea of returning the civility into politics that can unite us as Americans. Biden’s pledge to be a president for all people and to earn the support of those who do not currently back him, rather than viewing them primarily as political enemies, was a major theme of his address.
There were also other notable speeches and performances from a variety of people. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D) gave a speech that referred to Wednesday’s inauguration as the day “our democracy picks itself up.” She focused on the Jan. 6 insurrection which she said “awakened” Americans to their responsibilities. As well as paying tribute to Biden, Klobuchar noted the historical inauguration of Vice President Kamala Harris, who is the daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants.
Amanda Gorman, the new Youth Poet Laurete, gave a historic performance in the reading of her poem “The Hill We Climb.” The 22-year-old became the youngest person to deliver a poem at a U.S. presidential inauguration, reciting her inspiring poem after Biden and Harris were sworn in. Gorman echoed in beautiful poetry the same themes that Biden wove throughout his inaugural address: unity, healing, grief and hope, and the redemptive power of American ideals.
“I was deeply moved by Amanda Gorman’s poem,” senior Lily Redmond said. “Her entire presence and message were empowering, eloquent, and beautiful, and I feel extremely grateful to have witnessed it.”