The Inauguration of Joe Biden


President Biden being sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts as his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, holds the Bible. Credit: Reuters

Ella Siepel, Contributing Writer

Joseph R. Biden Jr., 2021 Inaugural Address

— “We look ahead in our uniquely American way – restless, bold, optimistic – and set our sights on the nation we know we can be and we must be.”

January 20th of 2021 marks the date of a historic presidential inauguration, bringing many firsts in American history. After a contentious election followed by protests and riots, Joseph R. Biden finally took office as the 46th president of the United States, accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris. Biden is the oldest president to ever sit in office, and Harris serves as the first woman, the first South Asian, and the first Black Vice President ever elected to office. 


Highlights of the Inauguration

Though the 2021 inauguration was decidedly smaller than previous years, with a greatly reduced number of attendees all wearing masks and practicing social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, live broadcasts made it available for all Americans to watch. The ceremony featured three musical performances: the Star-Spangled Banner sung by Lady Gaga, This Land is Your Land and America The Beautiful sung by Jennifer Lopez, and Amazing Grace sung by Garth Brooks. Vice President Harris was sworn in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latin-American member of the Supreme Court. 

Joseph R. Biden was sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts. Following this, Biden presented his Inaugural Address, a twenty-minute speech meant to unite the American people and provide them with hope regarding the future of America under the Biden Administration. President Biden presented a strong message, highlighting American ideals such as liberty, dignity, respect, honor, and truth, citing that a main goal of his administration is to unite a harshly divided and partisan nation. “This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward,” Biden stated in this moving speech. 

A final highlight of Wednesday’s inauguration was the poetry recitation by America’s first-ever youth poet laureate, Amanda Gorman. The poem touched on the history of the country, how much progress it has already experienced, and hopes for more positive change in the future. 


The Biden Administration’s First Actions

After the inauguration, the Biden Administration did not hesitate to take immediate action, and Biden signed 17 executive orders within the first day that reveal what directions he may go in the future of his presidency.

Naturally, the pandemic was a focus of many of these executive orders. Biden appointed a COVID-19 response coordinator, restored the directorate for global health security, reinstated ties with the World Health Organization, and appointed Dr. Anthony Fauci as the U.S. delegate. Finally, the President began a 100-day mask wearing challenge to urge the public and businesses to take more measures to prevent the spread of the virus. 

President Biden also took action regarding immigration laws. He bolstered DACA, a program which President Trump had tried to eliminate during his presidency, and revoked the Trump Administration’s plan to exclude undocumented immigrants from the census. After halting many of the Trump Administration’s measures to deport undocumented immigrants, President Biden also halted construction of the border wall with Mexico. 

Regarding climate change, another big issue in American politics, Biden has reentered the United States in the Paris climate accords, which Trump had left near the beginning of his presidency. Biden has also revoked the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, changed vehicle emission standards, and put a temporary moratorium on oil and natural gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife refuge. 

Finally, Biden has also signed executive orders relating to racial and LGBT+ equality issues. He has ended the Trump Administration’s 1776 Commission, revoked Trump’s previous executive order that had limited the ability of institutions to hold diversity training, and reinforced Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to require no discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. 

Biden’s first day executive orders have helped to inform the American public about what his administration will focus on moving forward, and much more can be expected to happen in the next few months. The first 100 days of Biden’s presidency will be an integral part of determining how productive Biden will be as a president and whether his policies will gain the support of the American people. 


Read Biden’s Address and Gorman’s poem