2021 Presidential Inauguration mostly virtual

Daily News Article   —   Posted on January 20, 2021

NOTE: The 2021 inauguration will be mostly virtual due to fears of Covid-19. Luckily, President-elect Biden received his 2nd dose of the vaccine 10 days prior to the election and Kamala Harris, as well as many/most other attendees will have received the vaccine also.

(Compiled from The Art Newspaper and by UPI) – An installation of nearly 200,000 flags and 56 pillars of light—representing every US state and territory—opened on the National Mall on Monday night ahead of President-Elect Joseph Biden Jr’s inauguration on January 20.

The “Field of Flags” takes the space normally filled by the public, who will be unable to attend the event in person due to the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown of  Washington, DC due to [claims by the FBI, Democrats and the media that Trump supporters will stage violent protests around the inauguration].

Biden’s inauguration, organized under the theme of “America United” to mark “the beginning of a new national journey that restores the soul of America, brings the country together, and creates a path to a brighter future” according to the committee website, is a largely virtual affair, with online programming that started early on Saturday.

This included a project to create a massive crowd-sourced kolam tile installation, led by the artist Shanthi Chandrasekar. The traditional Indian art form, honoring Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris’s maternal heritage, is meant to usher in prosperity to Hindu homes. (Raised both Hindu and Baptist, Harris says she is now a Baptist.) The 2,500sq ft work was originally planned to be installed in front of the US Capitol, but following the protests by Trump supporters on January 6, this has been postponed until after Inauguration Day.

On Tuesday, the Reflecting Pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial will be lit as a memorial to the more than 400,000 lives lost in the US from Covid-19. Communities across the country are also invited to illuminate buildings and ring church bells at 5:30 pm in a national moment of unity and remembrance. [Biden was scheduled to arrive in Washington on Tuesday evening from Delaware to participate in the Inauguration Eve ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial. At about 5:30 p.m. EST, Biden, Harris and their families were near the reflecting pool at the memorial as about 400 lights were switched on, each representing 1,000 Americans who will have died of the pandemic. Similar memorials were held nationwide, including the Empire State Building in New York City and the Space Needle in Seattle and other landmarks].

Some live performances are planned for Wednesday when Biden will swear the oath of office, although a relatively small number of invited guests will attend in person (mostly government officials), including Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Second lady Karen Pence, the Bushes and the Obamas. (Outgoing President Donald Trump has said he will skip the event, which Biden has said is a “good thing”.)  Due to heightened security and covid fears at this year’s event, there will be only about 1,000 guests in attendance — not the usual tens of thousands in front of the complex.

The ceremonies will begin at 11:15 a.m. EST with the National Anthem, sung by Lady Gaga, and an invocation by Father Leo J. O’Donovan. Those will be followed by a poetry reading and then a musical performance by Jennifer Lopez.

Then, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Biden at around noon EST by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts on the western front of the U.S. Capitol.

After Biden repeats the presidential oath, he will deliver his inaugural address.

Afterwards, Biden, joined by former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.

The new president will then be escorted to the White House by an honor guard that includes military bands and drum lines from the University of Delaware Drumline and Howard University—the alma maters of Biden and Harris respectively—kicking off a virtual “Parade Across America” in place of the traditional inaugural parade down Pennsylvania Avenue. The traditional inaugural parade is one of several events that have either been canceled or “reimagined.”

Actor, director and producer Tony Goldwyn, who played U.S. President Fitzgerald Grant on “Scandal” opposite Kerry Washington, will host the parade.

Performers and athletes participating include comedian Jon Stewart; the band New Radicals, which will reunite for the first time in 22 years;  DJ Cassidy’s Pass The Mic, featuring Earth Wind & Fire, Nile Rodgers, Kathy Sledge, The Trans Chorus of Los Angeles, The Washington Chorus, The Triumph Baptist Church Choir and everyday Americans; singer and actress Andra Day, whose song “Rise Up” has become featured at many social justice protests; figure skater Kaitlyn Saunders, also known as The Skate Kid; Olympic athletes Nathan Chen, Allyson Felix and Katie Ledecky; and skateboarder Nathan Apodaca, also known as DoggFace.

A prime time program called “Celebrating America,” hosted by the actor Tom Hanks, will air on television Wednesday night.

Newsweek notes: “Set to air after Biden and Harris are sworn into office, the 90-minute special aims to celebrate a new era of American history. Artists including Justin Timberlake, Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato and Ant Clemons will perform during the showcase.

Biden and Harris are also expected to give remarks over the course of the program, which will also feature segments that will “highlight the strength of our democracy, the perseverance of our people, and our ability to come together during trying times and emerge stronger than ever before,” according to the President Inaugural Committee’s [PIC] official announcement for the program.”

Compiled from reports by Helen Stoilas at The Art Newspaper and UPI. 


Did you know?

10 Interesting Things You Should Know About Inauguration Day: (from about.com)

1.  Shortest Inaugural Address George Washington gave the shortest inauguration address in history during his second inauguration on March 4, 1793. Washington’s second inaugural address was only 135 words long! The second shortest inaugural address was given by Franklin D. Roosevelt at his fourth inauguration and was only 558 words long.

2.  Inauguration Blamed for President’s Death Even though there was a snowstorm on William Henry Harrison’s inauguration day (March 4, 1841), Harrison refused to move his ceremony indoors. Wanting to prove that he was still a hardy general who could brave the elements, Harrison took the oath of office as well as delivered the longest inaugural address in history (8,445 words, which took him nearly two hours to read) outside. Harrison also wore no overcoat, scarf, or hat. Shortly after his inauguration, William Henry Harrison came down with a cold, which quickly transformed into pneumonia. On April 4, 1841, having only served 31 days in office, President William Henry Harrison died. He was the first President to die in office and still holds the record for serving the shortest term.

3.  Sundays Inaugurations are never held on Sundays. If January 20 falls on a Sunday, the oath is then given privately on Saturday or on Sunday and then the public inauguration day celebrations are held on Monday with the oath repeated. [The Constitution requires presidential terms to begin on Jan. 20.]

4.  Few Constitutional Requirements It is a bit surprising how little the Constitution prescribes for inauguration day. In addition to the date and time, the Constitution only specifies the exact wording of the oath taken by the President-elect before he begins his duties. The oath states: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” (Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution)

5.  So Help Me God Although not officially part of the official oath, George Washington is credited with adding "So help me God" after he finished the oath during his first inauguration. Most Presidents have also uttered this phrase at the end of their oaths. Theodore Roosevelt, however, decided to end his oath with the phrase, “And thus I swear.”

6.  An Embarrassing Vice President In the past, the Vice President took his oath of office in the Senate Chamber, but the ceremony now occurs on the same platform as the President’s swearing-in ceremony on the west front terrace of the Capitol. The Vice President takes his oath and gives a short speech, followed by the President. This usually goes very smoothly, except for in 1865.Vice President Andrew Johnson hadn’t been feeling very well for several weeks before inauguration day. To get him through the important day, Johnson drank a few glasses of whiskey. When he got up to the podium to take his oath, it was obvious to everyone that he was drunk. His speech was incoherent and rambling and he didn’t step down from the podium until someone finally pulled on his coattails.

7.  The Oath Givers Although it is not stipulated in the Constitution, it has become a tradition to have the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court be the oath giver to the President on inauguration day. This, surprisingly, is one of the few traditions of inauguration day not begun by George Washington, who had the Chancellor of New York Robert Livingston give him his oath (Washington was sworn in at Federal Hall in New York). John Adams was the first President to have a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court swear him in Chief Justice John Marshall, having given the oath nine times, holds the record for having given the most presidential oaths on inauguration day. The only President to become an oath giver himself was William H. Taft, who had become a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court after he had served as President. The only woman to have ever sworn in a President was U.S. District Judge Sarah T. Hughes, who swore in Lyndon B. Johnson on board Air Force One.

8.  Traveling Together In 1837, outgoing President Andrew Jackson and President-elect Martin Van Buren rode together to the Capitol on inauguration day in the same carriage. Most of the following Presidents and President-elects have continued this tradition of traveling together to the ceremony. In 1877, the inauguration of Rutherford B. Hayes began the tradition of the President-elect first meeting the outgoing President at the White House for a short meeting and then traveling from the White House together to the Capitol for the ceremony.

9.  The Bible The tradition of the President taking his oath of office with his hand on a Bible was first begun by George Washington during his first inauguration. Some Presidents have opened the Bible to a random page (like George Washington in 1789 and Abraham Lincoln in 1861) while most others have opened the Bible to a specific page because of a meaningful verse. Of course, there is always the option to keep the Bible closed like Harry Truman did in 1945 and John F. Kennedy in 1961. President Trump was sworn in using President Abraham Lincoln's bible. Some Presidents even had two Bibles (with either both opened to the same verse or two different verses), while only one President refrained from using a Bible at all (Theodore Roosevelt in 1901).

10.  The Lame Duck Amendment Back in a time when news was carried by messengers on horses, there needed to be a great length of time between Election Day and inauguration day so that all the votes could be tallied and reported. To allow this time, inauguration day used to be March 4.  By the early twentieth century, this huge amount of time was no longer needed. The inventions of the telegraph, the telephone, automobiles, and airplanes had greatly cut the reporting time needed. Rather than make the lame duck President wait for four whole months to leave office, the date of inauguration day was changed in 1933 to January 20 by the addition of the 20th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Amendment also specified that the exchange of power from the lame duck President to the new President would take place at noon. Franklin D. Roosevelt was both the last President to be inaugurated on March 4 (1933) and the first President to be inaugurated on January 20 (1937).