Former U.S. Presidents Offer Biden Encouragement While the New President Shares a Dance With His Baby Grandson
Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th US President by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts — and with his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, by his side — on January 20, 2021, at the US Capitol in Washington, DC. Photo: Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty Images
Jan. 20, 2021 — Evening
The evening’s televised virtual inauguration celebrations featured a number of high-profile performances and appearances, from rockers and celebs like Bruce Springsteen, Kerry Washington and Eva Longoria, Bon Jovi and host Tom Hanks — not to mention a massive fireworks display.
In addition, three former presidents also took part — Barack Obama, 59, George W. Bush, 74, and Bill Clinton, 74 — cementing the ideal of a united Team America , celebrating the peaceful transition of power and congratulating Biden while offering words of wisdom as he embarks on his presidency.
“Obviously, there was a personal element to see my former Vice President become the 46th President, to see Kamala Harris as our first woman Vice President,” Obama began, before offering a nod to the idea of the peaceful transition of power.
He went on to acknowledge America’s divided social and political climate, saying, “We’ve got to not just listen to folks we agree with, but listen to folks we don’t,” before recalling how, at his 2008 inauguration, outgoing President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush showed he and new First Lady Michelle Obama a great level of respect. “It was a reminder that we can have fierce disagreements and yet recognize each other’s common humanity and that, as Americans, we have more in common than what separates us.”
Bush shared his belief that, “I think if Americans would love their neighbour like they would like to be loved themselves, a lot of the division in our society would end,” adding, “Mr. President, I’m pulling for your success. Your success is our country’s success, and God bless you.”
And Clinton echoed Bush’s sentiment, saying, “It’s a new beginning, and everybody needs to get off their high horse and reach out to their friends and neighbours and try to make it possible.”
Clinton, like Bush, added a message of support to Biden: “I’m glad you’re there, and I wish you well. You have spoken for us today, now you will lead for us, and we’re ready to march with you. Good luck. God bless.”
And Obama capped the video on a personal note to his former Vice President: “Joe, I’m proud of you. You and Kamala need to know that you’ve got all of us here rooting for your success, keeping you in our prayers, and we will be available in any ways that we can as citizens to help you guide our country forward. We wish you godspeed.”
But perhaps the most poignant moment of the night came not from speeches or celebrities or even former presidents.
In a scene filmed in the Oval Office, cameras caught Biden dancing with his 10-month-old grandson Beau Biden, who is named after the President’s late son, a former Delaware Attorney General, who died of cancer in 2015 at age 46. The baby is the child of the President’s other son, Hunter Biden, 50, and his wife Melissa Cohen, 32, and was born last March.
The significance of his grandson’s name — not to mention that Biden is the 46th U.S. President, which is the same age at which son Beau died (Biden tearfully acknowledged Beau in a speech before the inauguration, noting that it should have been him becoming president) — was poignant enough. But the visual of the pair dancing together in the Oval Office to Demi Lovato’s song “Lovely Day” was enough to overwhelm social media with emotions.
“Joe Biden holding his grandson, watching Demi Lovato. I’m done—in the best way,” one viewer named Jacque Gorelick tweeted. Another, Ashely E. Armstrong, tweeted, “Did I just cry seeing @JoeBiden dancing with his grandson watching @ddlovato perform from the Oval Office? Yes I did. #CelebratingAmerica.”
Meanwhile, ABC Eyewitness News shared a great photo of Biden and his grandson sharing a private moment through the White House window, with the presidential seal in the foreground.
Jan. 20, 2021 – 3 p.m.
Today’s inauguration ceremonies continued with wreath laying ceremonies, parades and this evening’s Inaugural Ball as millions of Americans celebrate the first day of the Joe Biden era.
Welcoming Biden to his new role on the world stage, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted that he was looking forward to the opportunity of working with the new leader and “continuing the partnership” that has always bonded the two nations.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson echoed this sentiment, saying that on issues like climate change and COVID-19, “America’s leadership is vital.”
And French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron used his congratulatory Tweet to welcome America “back to the Paris Agreement.”
After his swearing-in ceremony, the President travelled across the Potomac to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery to honour troops who sacrificed their lives for democracy. He was joined by the new First Lady, the Vice president and Second Gentleman, as well as former Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama and their respective spouses.
Departing Arlington on his way to the White House, Biden and Harris first took part in a “Virtual Parade Across America.” The new leaders walked down 15th Street to the White House as part of a virtual parade that was broadcast across the nation.
Along the way, they were virtually accompanied by celebrities (including Jon Stewart), bands (Earth Wind & Fire), Olympic athletes, performers, skateboarders and marching bands from across the country.
After the parade, which ended at the White House, Biden officially began his duties as new leader, signing executive orders and virtually swearing in new political appointees.
Hours before he arrived, Biden posted this tweet suggesting he’s ready for the enormous task ahead of him.
While the “real work” may be starting soon, America will party deep into the night as Biden and Harris will deliver remarks at the “Celebrating America” inaugural ball.
The virtual gala, which will be nationally televised, will be hosted by actor Tom Hanks and include appearances by Bruce Springsteen, Justin Timberlake, Jon Bon Jovi, John Legend, Ant Clemons, Eva Longoria, Demi Lovato, Kerry Washington and Foo Fighters, who will be performing at well known locations across the country.
Jan. 20, 2021 – 1 p.m.
“Without Unity, There Is No Peace” – New U.S. President Biden Vows to Put “Whole Soul” Into Bringing Together a Divided Nation
With a light snow falling over the U.S. Capitol, America attempted to show the world that it can put political divisions aside for one day and celebrate the inauguration of its new leader, Joe Biden.
Missing from this important ceremony was the usual throng of inauguration spectators, unable to be there because of COVID-19 restrictions. Instead, the absent crowd was symbolized by more than 200,000 flags representing Americans from all 50 states. In front of a limited crowd of family members, political friends and ranking Republicans, Biden promised to unify the nation as he was sworn in as the 46th president.
With former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton joining the ceremony (Jimmy Carter could not make it for health reasons), President Biden promised to put his “whole soul” into moving on from the country’s “uncivil war.” He called on Americans to “join forces, stop the shouting and lower the temperature.”
The one former leader absent from the transition of power was Donald Trump, who hastily departed Washington earlier this morning unwilling to take part in the ceremony welcoming Biden.
His role was taken by outgoing Vice President Mike Pence, who stayed largely in the background while he performed the ceremonial protocols that make the swearing in of a new leader such an important spectacle.
Minutes before he entered the stage to become the world’s most powerful nation’s leader, Biden sent this Tweet to his wife, Jill.
Biden fist-bumped President Obama, his friend and former boss, on his way to take his seat at the swearing-in ceremony. Senator Amy Klobuchar introduced the proceedings by highlighting that the significance of the day goes far beyond welcoming a new leader. Referring to the Capitol riot, Klobuchar noted that this “is the day when our democracy picks itself up, brushes off the dust and does what America always does: goes forward as a nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
After Lady Gaga sang a powerfully uplifting version of The Star-Spangled Banner, Kamala Harris officially became the first female, first Black and first South Asian to take the oath as vice president. Befitting the highly symbolic moment, Harris was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina member of the top court.
Following Jennifer Lopez’s renditions of This Land Is Your Land and America the Beautiful, Biden took the oath of office administered by Chief Justice John Roberts. Amid a rousing ovation from the few spectators on hand, the band struck up “Hail to the Chief,” and Biden delivered his speech imploring Americans to strive for unity.
“We can see each other, not as adversaries, but as neighbours. We can treat each other with dignity and respect. We can join forces, stop the shouting and lower the temperature. For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury,” said Biden, urging Americans to view each others as neighbours, not as foes.
Carefully avoiding any references to ideology or partisanship in his inaugural address, Biden recognized the fact that today’s proceedings weren’t about politics but instead, “This is democracy’s day, a day of history and hope, of renewal and resolve.”
Employing the plain-spoken tone that he has used over his lengthy time in politics, he promised to be a “president for all Americans” who would put his “whole soul” into securing the future of the nation.
He acknowledged the enormous challenge he faces over the next four years, specifically battling the pandemic, which has taken the lives of 400,000 Americans – more than the total lives lost in the Second World War.
“We have much to do in this winter of peril and significant opportunities,” he said, pointing out he must lead the charge to heal the nation while simultaneously addressing a host of simmering issues, which he identified as: “anger, resentment and hatred, extremism, lawlessness, violence, disease, joblessness and hopelessness.”
But despite the massive challenge, he struck an optimistic note, saying: “We can do this if we open our souls rather than hardening our hearts,” he said.
He expressed confidence that America can accomplish all of this by espousing their traditional values of “decency and dignity, love and healing, greatness and goodness.”
Biden closed his speech with the hope that future generations would regard him as a president who “met the moment” and held up the Constitution and defended Democracy.
“Democracy and hope, truth and justice did not die on our watch but thrived, that America secured liberty at home and stood once again as a beacon to the world. That is what we owe our forebears, one another and generations to follow.”
Jan. 20, 2021 –11 a.m.
America has finally turned the page on a tumultuous period of history as Donald Trump and wife Melania left Washington today, waving farewell to a sparse crowd of family and the few supporters who bothered to show up.
With Sinatra’s “My Way” playing over loudspeakers, Trump boarded Air Force One and was whisked off to Florida, ending four years of chaotic rule that has left the country seemingly more divided than at any point since the Civil War.
The grim-looking Trump broke with tradition by apparently refusing to read a prepared speech that included language welcoming President Joe Biden and lauding the peaceful transition of power from one leader to the next. Thumbing his nose at tradition right until the end, Trump left Washington without greeting his successor, let alone accompanying him in the limo on the way to the inauguration.
These final displays of pettiness come on top of yesterday’s snub of the new leader, where in one of his last acts as president, Trump refused to authorize an Air Force jet to fly the Biden family to Washington from Delaware. Instead, the new First Family had to charter their own jet.
Even before Trump exited the political stage, yesterday Biden signalled to Americans that he will adopt a much more civil tone and end the nasty partisan fighting that has typified American politics for the last four years.
Before leaving Delaware on his way to his inauguration, Biden spoke movingly about his son Joseph (Beau) Biden who died from cancer in 2015. Breaking down in tears, he said, “I only have one regret, that he’s not here. Because we should be introducing him as president.”
And later that evening, Biden attended a memorial for the victims of COVID-19, the first time the country has come together to acknowledge the lives lost to the deadly pandemic.
With the sun setting over the National Mall, along with his wife, Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, 400 lights were lit along the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, creating a sombre yet beautiful setting to remember the 400,000 Americans who have died of COVID-19.
As Yolanda Adams sang a haunting version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” Biden solemnly memorialized those have passed away. “Between sundown and dusk, let us shine the lights through darkness along the sacred pool of reflection and remember all who we lost,” he said. “For many months, we have grieved by ourselves,” said Harris. “Tonight, we grieve and begin healing together.”
Both Biden and Harris emphasized that the memorial wasn’t just about mourning but also about healing and hope. Today’s inauguration will mark the beginning of their combined effort to heal and restore America from the pain, anger and divisiveness that have overshadowed the country for the last four years.