By Edith Morgan
January 20, at 12:32 p.m: Now it’s time to get to work! There was some wind, a couple of snowflakes, and then blue sky, as the ceremonies began, just before noon in Washington.
US Senator Amy Klobuchar stepped up to the microphone, made introductory remarks, as co-chair of the planning committee for the event, followed by co-chair Roy Blunt. A few moments of invocation followed …Lady Gaga then made a grand entrance, wearing an enormously bouffant red gown, she and sang the National Anthem. She was followed by the Pledge of Allegiance, led by a Black female officer.
And then came Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor …our first Latina Supreme Court justice, she came up to swear in Vice-President Kamala Harris, our first female, woman of color vp. She looked pretty – bareheaded and windblown in her deep purple suit designed by a designer who is Black. Jennifer Lopez, dressed in flowing white gown, then sang two songs: her own special blend of “This Land is Your Land” and “America.”
SC Chief Justice John Roberts then administered the oath of office to our new President, Joe Biden, who had his left hand on what appeared to be an enormous antique Bible, held by his wife, Dr. Jill Biden. It’s been in his family for decades.
Biden then gave his address. As we probably all expected, he touched on all the themes America needs to hear now: UNITY, renewal and resolve. He had us all take a minute of silent prayer for all the victims of the novel coronavirus and their families and friends. A constantly recurring theme was that ALL of our people are needed, and that while democracy has thus far triumphed in our country, it is fragile and needs us all to survive. We achieved the peaceful transfer of power this time, as we have so many times before. The TV cameras several times panned over the past US presidents who were there with their wives: the Bushes, the Clintons, the Obamas. The Carters were missing, as Jimmy Carter. 95, could not make it; outgoing VP Mike Pence was there also throughout the entire ceremony.
Biden listed all the great tasks before us: we have great challenges in the area of the coronavirus, jobs, business, racial justice – but together, in UNITY, we can work on all of them!! While there were no specifics, there was instead a repeated exhortation to work together, remember our shared history, our faith and reason. Biden urged us all to start afresh, listen to each other, really see one another! He promised to give his best, so that our children would be able to say “He did his best.”
After thousands of Trump lies, distortions and misinformation, we can expect that Biden will, as he promised, always level with us, the people.
Garth Brooks then sang “Amazing Grace,” asking the audience to join him for the final verse. That reminded a number of us of the rendition of that song sung by then-President Obama after the Sandyhook massacre …
As a sort of grand finale, America’s first youth poet laureate, Amanda Gorman, recited her poem – a most impressive rendition of all that we have been through these past four years – exhorting us to have hope, be strong in our diversity … She really brought out the rhythms and sounds of the English language to remind us all of our goals and tasks ahead. I was amazed that one so young – just 22 – and beautiful! – could be so persuasive!! She was truly a fitting finale to this very important and classy event. After the flags were retired and the guests of honor filed out, the attendees filed out quietly and in a peaceful procession.
I was glad to see that decorum and style had returned to our national proceedings. The rest of the world surely was watching and must have been impressed. American Democracy is, for now, alive and well.