WASHINGTON – Amid a global pandemic and the threat of violence, Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States on Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol, promising to to unite the country and heal a wounded nation.
Mr. Biden took the oath of office in front of a small, socially distanced audience just two weeks after supporters of former President Donald Trump marched on the capital and wrecked violence. Since then, the new President has called on a new “path forward” and for all Americans to unite.
“I know speaking of unity can sound to some like a foolish fantasy these days, I know the forces that divide are deep and they are real,” Biden said. “Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we’re all created equal and the harsh ugly reality of racism, nativism, fear, demonization.”
“This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge — and unity is the path forward,” he added.
Mr. Biden spoke about the crisis facing the country: the coronavirus pandemic that has taken over 400,000 lives. The new President noted the road will be difficult but urged everyone to remain patient and said he is sure the country will be through it together.
In attendance at the inauguration ceremony were former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and their spouses, as well as Vice President Mike Pence.
The new President attempted to reach out to Trump’s supporters, calling on them to give him and his administration a chance to lead the country.
“We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal. We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts,” Biden said.
As he did during the campaign, Mr. Biden vowed to to address the pandemic, the subsequent economic collapse, racial justice, climate change and political division.
Keeping with his theme from his campaign, the new President promised to be a leader for all Americans, not just those who voted for him.
“With unity we can do great things, important things. We can right wrongs. We can put people to work in good jobs, we can teach our children in safe schools, we can overcome the deadly virus,” he said. “We can deliver racial justice and we can make America once again a leading force for good in the world.”
At age 78, Mr. Biden becomes the oldest President in American history.
Notably absent was former President Donald Trump, who broke tradition and skipped his successors swearing in. He departed the White House early Wednesday morning and spoke with supporters, hinting he may be back soon.
“It is my greatest honor and privilege to have been your president,” Trump said. I will always fight for you. I will be watching. I will be listening. Goodbye, we love you, we will be back in some form.”