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  • Joe Biden and Kamala Harris's Inauguration: What You Need to Know About the Event
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    It's been an historic day—and it's not over yet.

    BY CHLOE FOUSSIANES JAN 20, 2021

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    P resident Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have officially begun their respective terms in office, after taking the oath of office at an inauguration ceremony unlike any other. Below, all the details on today's event.

    It's been an historic day.

    As planned by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC)—the six-member, bipartisan committee responsible for holding these events—Biden and Harris were sworn in at the West Front of the Capitol on Wednesday, January 20. The theme is "America United."

    Due to the pandemic, the ceremony looked very different this year.

    The 2021 event is the 59th inauguration ceremony planned by the JCCIC since it was formed in 1901, but due to the ongoing pandemic, it didn't look like any that's come before.

    The President and Vice President were sworn in at a ceremony on the west side of the Capitol—albeit a very scaled-down one, with "vigorous health and safety protocols in place"—and took part in a "Pass in Review," a tradition that symbolizes the peaceful transfer of power, wherein the incoming president surveys a group of uniformed members of the military, on the east side. Later, Biden and Harris laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery; they were joined by former Presidents and First Ladies Barack and Michelle Obama, George W. and Laura Bush, and Bill and Hillary Clinton.

    Rather than stage the traditional parade in D.C., the inauguration will be celebrated with a virtual parade. "The parade will celebrate America's heroes, highlight Americans from all walks of life in different states and regions, and reflect on the diversity, heritage, and resilience of the country as we begin a new American era," the inaugural committee's press release explained earlier in January.

    Biden will also receive a presidential escort from 15th Street to the White House, "providing the American people and world with historic images of the President-elect proceeding to the White House without attracting large crowds and gatherings."

    In addition, in lieu of the traditional festivities on the night of the inauguration, Biden's inaugural committee is producing a 90-minute television special, called "Celebrating America," to celebrate the new president's swearing-in.

    Biden and Harris at the conclusion of the 2020 DNC.

    OLIVIER DOULIERY / GETTY IMAGES

    But there has still been star power.

    The inauguration ceremony featured Lady Gaga singing the national anthem, as well as a musical performance by Jennifer Lopez. They were joined by Father Leo O’Donovan, who read the invocation; firefighter Andrea Hall, who said the Pledge of Allegiance; poet Amanda Gorman, who gave a poetry reading; and Reverend Dr. Silvester Beaman, who gave the Benediction.

    The "Celebrating America" TV special will be hosted by Tom Hanks, and feature performances from John Legend, the Foo Fighters, Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato, Justin Timberlake, and Ant Clemons. Eva Longoria and Kerry Washington will introduce segments during the program.

    It was different for other reasons as well.

    President Trump left the White House early on Wednesday morning, and did not attend the ceremony —becoming the first living president to miss his successor's inauguration since Andrew Johnson in 1869. Trump's absence will underscored how he has undermined the peaceful transfer of power by repeatedly making false claims of election fraud—baseless and reckless assertions that came to a head on January 6, when the President encouraged his supporters to march to Capitol Hill, and the mob sieged the Capitol building.

    In response to the siege, D.C. also instituted several precautions in advance of the inauguration. Mayor Muriel Bowser extended the public emergency, first declared on January 6, through January 21. Among other things, this grants her the power to call a curfew at any time, as she did on the night of the insurrection. National Guard troops from D.C., Maryland and Virginia are also remaining in D.C. for a month after the siege. In addition, about 15,000 National Guard members, some of whom will be armed, were deployed to protect the Capitol building complex during Biden's swearing-in ceremony.

    Said Biden on January 11, in the wake of the siege and amid ongoing concerns about security in and around the Capitol, “I’m not afraid of taking the oath outside.” However, amid heightened security concerns he abandoned his plans to take the Amtrak from Delaware to D.C. in advance of the inauguration, per CNN.

    Wednesday's events follow a series of earlier inaugural festivities.

    In advance of Inauguration Day, the Biden inaugural committee planned a handful of events. They began with

    America United: An Inauguration Welcome Event Celebrating America’s Changemakers on Saturday, January 16. The 90-minute broadcast—streamed on bideninaugural.org and on Presidential Inaugural Committee social media accounts—featured appearances from actors Whoopi Goldberg, Nik Dodani, Darren Criss, and Cristela Alonzo, as well as Representative Grace Meng, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, and the Resistance Revival Choir. Grammy-nominated group Black Pumas performed.

    On Monday, January 18, in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the committee hosted United We Serve: A Celebration of the National MLK Day of Service. Volunteers across the country celebrated by taking part in a National Day of Service, and a one-hour event featuring Aloe Blacc, Reverend Dr. Bernice King, Martin Luther King III, Chesca, Representative Sharice Davids, Rosario Dawson, Andra Day, Yo-Yo Ma, Reverend Al Sharpton, Sean Patrick Thomas, Diane Warren, Lynn Whitfield, and Bebe Winans streamed live that night on bideninaugural.org and the committee's social pages.

    The following day, the committee held a Memorial and Nationwide Tribute to Remember and Honor the Lives Lost to Covid-19 . A ceremony took place in D.C., featuring a lighting around the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, and cities and towns across the U.S. were invited to join by holding their own commemorative ceremonies.

    In addition, to symbolize the Americans who cannot attend the event in-person due to the pandemic, a public art display titled "Field of Flags," composed of about 191,500 U.S. flags, has been on view at the National Mall from 3rd Street to 13th Street.

    There may be a second round of celebrations.

    Clyburn has told CNN that it was possible more celebrations would be planned for the summer, when the threat of the pandemic might be less salient—perhaps near July 4th. "Hopefully, things will be under control then," he said.

    It's definitely being televised.

    Every major news network, including ABC , CBS , NBC, Fox,

    PBS , CNN, and MSNBC , broadcast the inauguration ceremony event live. (See more information on how to watch the inauguration here .)

    Later on Wednesday, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and MSNBC—but not Fox or Fox News—will air the inaugural committee's 90-minute television special live. Per CNN, the special will also stream live on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Twitch, and Amazon Prime Video.

    CHLOE FOUSSIANES News Writer

    Chloe is a News Writer for

    Townandcountrymag.com , where she covers royal news, from the latest additions to Meghan Markle’s staff to

    Queen Elizabeth’s monochrome fashions; she also writes about culture, often dissecting TV shows like

    The Marvelous Mrs Maisel and Killing Eve .

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