Joe Biden is set to be formally sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on Jan. 20 at an inauguration ceremony, where Kamala Harris will also take her oath of office as vice president.
Biden’s ceremony will take off from the ‘historic’ presidency of the Trump administration — a historic siege of the Capitol, an unprecedented second impeachment for a president, as well widespread civil unrest and racial tension among others. On inauguration day, Trump is set to make another historic gesture by being the first incumbent president to skip the symbolic transfer of power in over 150 years.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic will also lessen the pomp, but not circumstance, of the inauguration due to the restrictions on the number of attendees.
As can be seen below from the photos below, The National Mall has been filled with flags to represent Americans who can’t attend in person.
Stunning pictures of the National Mall set up for inauguration with flags representing Americans who can’t attend in person (via Getty) pic.twitter.com/gi5kPHFkOt— Amanda Terkel (@aterkel) January 19, 2021
Here’s the lowdown on how the ceremony is expected to unfold.
The ceremony is expected to start around 11 am ET (or around 12 am Manila time). The event will start with the national anthem and invocation.
The #InaugurationDay ceremony lineup is here! ?— Biden Inaugural Committee (@BidenInaugural) January 14, 2021
Invocation - Fr. Leo O’Donovan
Pledge of Allegiance - Andrea Hall
National Anthem - @ladygaga
Poetry Reading - Amanda Gorman
Musical Performance - @JLo
Benediction - Rev. Dr. Silvester Beaman pic.twitter.com/IkTAwH3wgu
The invocation will be by Rev. Leo J. O’Donovan, a Jesuit priest and a close friend of the Bidens.
The Pledge of Allegiance will be led by Andrea Hall, the first African American female firefighter to become captain in the South Fulton, Georgia fire department.
Lady Gaga, who has worked with and campaigned for Biden, will lead the national anthem.
Amanda Gorman, the first Youth Poet Laureate in 2017, will read a poem she wrote for the ceremony titled “The Hill We Climb.”
So honored to be the Inaugural Poet reciting at #InaugurationDay ! Not only am I excited to see @JoeBiden @KamalaHarris sworn in, but I also have the privilege of being the youngest Inaugural Poet in history. See you soon! https://t.co/b58CiVxMCD— Amanda Gorman (@TheAmandaGorman) January 14, 2021
Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks will also have their performances.
Rev. Silvester Beaman, a Delaware pastor and a friend of the Biden family, will deliver a benediction.
Who will be there?
Vice President Mike Pence will reportedly attend the inauguration. Former Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton Barack Obama are also expected to be there.
The 96-year-old President Jimmy Carter, the oldest living president, will not be attending. This will be the first inauguration that Carter and his 93-year-old wife Rosalynn will not be able to attend after his presidency ended in 1981, though both have sent their “best wishes.”
Most members of Congress and the Supreme Court are also expected to come.
What will happen during the swearing in?
Harris is expected to be sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor shortly before noon. Both Harris and Sotomayor are former prosecutors.
Sotomayor also administered the oath to Biden as vice president in 2013.
Biden is set to be sworn at noon, or an hour after the start of the ceremony, by Chief Justice John Roberts. It will be held on the Capitol’s West Front in keeping with tradition.
Biden will take his presidential oath with his hand resting on top of his five-inch thick family Bible, which is 127-years old. The giant tome will be held by his wife Jill Biden.
What could Biden say in his address?
The theme of Biden’s inaugural address is “America United.” Following the highly divisive nature of the current political climate, Biden is expected to stay on his recurrent message of unity.
Biden is also expected to deliver a call to healing and offer a recovery roadmap for the country out of the current crises it is currently grappling with.
“It's a message of unity. It's a message of getting things done,” incoming White House chief of staff Ron Klain told CNN.
Members of the transition team have told the press that Biden is still continuing to revise the text of his address along with his family and senior advisers.
“You can expect that this will be a moment where president-elect Biden will really work to try to turn the page on the divisiveness and the hatred of the last four year and really lay out a positive optimistic vision for the country,” incoming White House communications director Kate Bedingfield told ABC News.
Some are expecting Biden to quote from the Scripture or poetry, as has been his wont.
After the ceremony, Biden and Harris will take part in a military tradition that signifies that peaceful transfer of power called Pass in Review. This will take pace on the East Front of the Capitol.
Biden and Harris together with their spouses will then proceed to the Arlington Cemetery in Virginia to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Biden will then receive a presidential escort from 15th Street in Washington to the White House.
Will there be a parade and a ball?
Due to the pandemic, a virtual parade called “Parade Across America” will take place in lieu of the traditional parade from the Capitol to the White House.
The Biden team said the virtual event will feature different performances from different communitie across the country.
The inaugural ball will also be replaced by a 90-minute TV special hosted by Tom Hanks called “Celebrating America,” which will have musical performances and remarks from both Biden and Harris.