From the nearly 200,000 flags on the national mall where people would normally gather to the Fort Knox-like security measures—complete with barbed wire fencing—the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris promises to be a stark departure from previous events. The toned down and somber feel of the inauguration befits the mood of a battered and deeply divided nation in the throes of a deadly pandemic.
Yet, as dark as the days have been, the Biden-Harris administration also signals the dawn of new possibilities. Harris will make history as the first woman and first Black woman of South Asian descent to ever be elected the vice president of the United States. She will be sworn in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the Supreme Court’s first Latina, using Thurgood Marshall’s Bible. Biden, who began his career as one of the youngest senators in Congress, will also make history as the nation’s oldest president.
In keeping with COVID-19 safety protocols, the public is encouraged to watch the largely virtual inauguration from the comforts of home. There are plenty of ways to take it all in. ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, and all the major cable networks will provide coverage. You can also watch online with most streaming channels or the Biden Inaugural Committee website: bideninaugural.org/watch, or its social media channels: YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Twitch. The White House will also stream the event live.
The day kicks off with President-elect Biden, Vice President-elect Harris, and their spouses Dr. Jill Biden and Douglas Emhoff, attending a church service at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and Republican leaders Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy are set to join them.
“An Inaugural Celebration for Young Americans” hosted by entertainer and advocate Keke Palmer will take place at 9 am. The livestreamed event will feature a special message from Dr. Jill Biden and offer special features for the youth.
Around 10 am, President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris will be sworn in on the West front of the U.S. Capitol building. After they take their oaths of office, President-elect Biden will deliver an inaugural address laying out his plan to defeat the pandemic and unify the nation. Lady Gaga is expected to sing the national anthem and Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks are slated to perform at the ceremony.
In the afternoon, around 1 pm, the president, first lady, the vice president, and the second gentleman will visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. Joining them will be three former presidents and their spouses, Barack and Michelle Obama, George W. and Laura Bush, and Bill and Hillary Clinton.
President-elect Biden will receive a Presidential Escort at 2 pm from 15th Street to the White House with every branch of the military will be represented in the escort. The Presidential Escort to the White House will be followed by a “Parade Across America,” a virtual parade hosted by actor Tony Goldwyn and featuring a diverse range of performances in communities across the country.
In the evening, the president will sign executive orders and other presidential actions in the Oval Office and swear in day one appointees in a virtual ceremony.
The president and the vice president will then deliver remarks during the “Celebrating America” inaugural program. This 90-minute prime-time show airs at 7:30 pm and features remarks from President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris. Tom Hanks serves as host. The event also features Ant Clemons, Jon Bon Jovi, Foo Fighters, John Legend, Eva Longoria, Demi Lovato, Bruce Springsteen, Justin Timberlake, and Kerry Washington.
Find more inauguration events by going to bideninaugural.org/schedule.