The 9 Must-See Moments Of Joe Biden’s Inauguration

Chris York
·Senior Editor, HuffPost UK
·7-min read

Well, it’s finally happened: Donald Trump is once again just a regular(ish) private citizen without access to the most powerful nuclear arsenal on the planet.

Joe Biden on Wednesday became the 46th president of the United States in a day that has (so far) passed off peacefully – just days after a violent mob stormed the same building at which he was sworn in.

It was also the day a 22-year-old poet wowed the entire world, but we’ll get to that later.

Let’s start at the beginning of the day with one rather subdued house-moving operation...

The exit

Donald Trump entered the White House four years ago riding high on a right-wing populist approach and an “America First” message.

Today he left with his presidency in tatters, epitomised with an unprecedented two impeachments.

He walked out of the White House with wife Melania with only a handful of reporters and a few aides there to see him off.

<strong>President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump depart the White House to board Marine One.</strong> (Photo: REUTERS)
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump depart the White House to board Marine One. (Photo: REUTERS)

The note

In characteristically sulky style, Trump is the first president in modern history to boycott his successor’s inauguration.

He did, however, follow one presidential tradition. The White House said the Republican president left behind a note for Biden, but what it says has not yet been reported.

The loser’s speech

Waiting for Trump at Andrews Air Force Base was a mini-rally of sorts complete with flags, MAGA acolytes and four US Army cannons firing a 21-gun salute.

Speaking without notes, Trump took to the stage and said his presidency was an “incredible four years”.

“It’s been something very special,” he added. “We’ve accomplished a lot.”

While the crowd of supporters gathered to see him off screamed and whooped in agreement, the wider US population don’t appear to share the view – Trump leaves office with an all-time low approval rating of just 34%.

He went on: “So just a goodbye. We love you. We will be back in some form.”

Trump managed the remarkable feat of not once mentioning Joe Biden, nor did he pay tribute to any of the 400,000 Americans who have lost their lives during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He did manage to get one final and quite brilliant Trumpism in – referring once again to his unsupported view that Covid-19 will disappear overnight, he said it would “skyrocket downwards”. Hmm...

The song

Credit where it’s due, there was one absolutely incredible moment during Trump’s exit – Air Force One lifting off from the tarmac (apparently) timed perfectly to coincide with the final few notes of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way”.

But you can’t win em all...

The new president

And so it was that a new president was sworn in.

And, in perhaps a more significant historical moment, a new vice president.

Kamala Harris’ inauguration marks the long-overdue first time that a woman, a Black American or an Asian American has become vice-president of the US, let alone all three.

The winner’s speech

Without a trace of the lies, pettiness, racism or just general unpleasantness we’ve come to expect from presidential speeches over the last four years, Joe Biden delivered his first official address as US president.

“The will of the people has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded,” he said.

<strong>Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States by Chief Justice John Roberts as Jill Biden holds the Bible.</strong> (Photo: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States by Chief Justice John Roberts as Jill Biden holds the Bible. (Photo: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

“We’ve learned again that democracy is precious and democracy is fragile. At this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.

“This is America’s day. This is democracy’s day. A day in history and hope, of renewal and resolve.”

The poet

A special mention goes to possibly the most impressive moment of the entire day – the astounding inaugural poem from 22-year-old (yes, 22) Amanda Gorman.

“Being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we step into and how we repair it,” the Los Angeles resident said.

“We will not march back to what was. We move to what shall be, a country that is bruised, but whole. Benevolent, but bold. Fierce and free.”

Do yourself a favour and listen to it in its entirety...

There were other performers, notably a cracking rendition of the dramatic version of the US national anthem from Lady Gaga – who also became in instant meme due to the Star Wars vibes emitted from this picture.

The future

Pomp and ceremony over with, the Biden team immediately made it clear through his newly-acquired POTUS Twitter account that there is one hell of a job ahead of them – not least tackling a global pandemic Trump has continued to play down even as 400,000 Americans and counting have died.

On Wednesday Biden will issue a mask mandate for federal property and federal contractors – and ask people to wear masks in public for 100 days.

Many of Biden’s first actions as president are expected to reverse policies adopted by Trump, particularly around the environment.

He is set to announce America’s immediate return to the international Paris Agreement to fight climate change, the centrepiece of a raft of day-one executive orders aimed at restoring US leadership in combating global warming.

The announcements will also include a sweeping order to review all of ex-president Donald Trump’s actions weakening climate change protections, the revocation of a vital permit for TC Energy’s Keystone XL oil pipeline project from Canada, and a moratorium on oil and gas leasing activities in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that Trump’s administration had recently opened to development, Biden aides said.

The view from the UK

After four years of being notably uncritical of Trump, Boris Johnson today hailed his political demise as “a step forward for the country that has been through a bumpy period”.

Speaking to reporters, he said: “When you look at the issues that unite me and Joe Biden, the UK and the United States, right now, there’s a fantastic joint common agenda.

“I really congratulate Joe and Kamala Harris on their achievement, on their inauguration today.

“It’s a fantastic thing for America [...] and for us and America it’s a big moment.”

Related...

Joe Biden Sworn In As 46th President Of The United States

Trump Leaves Note For Biden And People Try To Guess What It Says

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.