By Sanjit Menon
Amidst the pandemic, this year has opened a new chapter in the history of the United States. A presidential inauguration is an event that is only witnessed every four years and is an experience for citizens to acknowledge the leaders that will serve as the voice of the people. Due to the recent turmoil, the inauguration of 2021 was unlike any other in the past.
With the risk of transmission of COVID-19, fewer attendees were invited to the ceremony in person. Compared to the 200,000 tickets distributed in past inaugurations, organizers only allowed a little over 1,000 tickets. Along with the pandemic, the attack on Capitol Hill instigated a sensation of panic and discord among politicians. In order to protect President Biden and Vice President Harris from extremist groups, a reported 25,000 National Guard troops were present; this was three times the number of troops compared to previous inaugurations. Security measures such as high-perimeter fencing and police checkpoints were also enforced out of precaution.
Artwork by Saffah Azeem
The crowd at Biden's inauguration was limited due to the ongoing pandemic.
Harris was sworn in as the Vice President, making history as the first Black and Asian American woman to hold that position. She was sworn in by Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina to serve on the United States Supreme Court.
Even with the supplementary security measures, what shocked many citizens of the United States was the absence of former President Donald Trump during the inauguration.
“I am aware that other presidents have skipped the incoming president’s inauguration due to conflicts in the past, but I believe it's wrong no matter what. I believe that tradition and customs in American history prove our nation's worth. I also believe that it was professional of the incoming administration for not spending time ripping on Trump for not attending, and rather celebrating the inauguration as the tradition displays,” said junior Eric Orbon.
To preserve a century-long tradition, it is customary to show future presidents respect as they take the mantle of president. Not only did Trump fail to attend Biden’s inauguration, but he was also in denial that Biden won the election.
Considering all the distinct changes that have been made in the recent inauguration, some citizens of America are extremely elated based on how Biden approached his first day in office. For instance, Biden ended the National Emergency Declaration, which allowed the past administration to give money to construct the border wall. The president also issued an immigration reform bill for undocumented immigrants.
“I’m optimistic considering the current state of the nation. No matter who’s president, we should all be rooting for them considering that our well-being depends on their success. His [Biden's] plans seem well-rounded and appear to put the people first, which I appreciate. Overall, I’m hoping that his plans work,” said junior Daniel Kim.
Biden’s attempt of reformation portrays the fact that he takes into account the betterment of the citizens of the United States of America. In addition, Harris shares the spotlight with Biden. With her plan of helping fill the “teacher pay gap” and advocating for a Debt-Free College Act, many are elated to see reforms for which Harris will advocate.
“With the bizarre presidential election of 2020, Harris has come a long way and is a symbol of possibility. Facing the struggles of unprecedented times as well as allegations against the legitimacy of the election, Biden and Harris were able to overcome these challenges and take the oath of office on the inaugural floor,” said junior Elisa George.