Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was sworn in Wednesday as the 46th president of the United States, writing a new chapter in American history as the first oldest America to hold the nation’s highest office at 78.
The former vice president takes over in a time of healing with the nation currently divided. A ceremony that took place on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol is also where pro-Trump insurrectionists rioted two weeks ago. He makes history alongside Kamala Devi Harris, the first African-American woman to be named as vice president after taking the solemn oath administered by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
With his hand on a family Bible used since 1893 and his wife at his side, Biden swore to “preserve, protect and defend” the Constitution to Chief Justice John Roberts in front of a select, socially-distanced crowd with a near-empty National Mall.
Biden said he wants an administration that “reflects the beginning of a new national journey that restores the soul of America, brings the country together, and creates a path to a brighter future.”
“This is America’s day. This is democracy’s day, a day of history and hope, of renewal and resolve through a crucible for the ages,” he said. “America has been tested anew, and America has risen to the challenge.”
Delaware’s adopted son didn’t make a direct reference to his predecessor Donald Trump in his first official speech as president, but rather thanked those from the outgoing administration who were in attendance at the ceremony. It was the first time in over 150 years a former president wasn’t on hand for the swearing-in and peaceful transition of power to their successor.
Biden called on the nation’s leaders to “defend the truth and defeat the lies” and “end the uncivil war.” One of the most critical messages of the longtime politician’s career on the country’s biggest stage.
He also sent a clear directive that the county will finally work toward overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic, saying ” We will get through this together, together.”
A theme of unity repeated by the president as he denounced the “rise of political extremism, white supremacy and domestic terrorism,” — an indirect swipe at Trump supporters who caused chaos at the Capitol — and noted there was “A cry for racial justice some 400 years in the making that moves us. The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer.”
Biden went from delivering his first speech to enacting 17 executive orders from the President’s room in the Capitol within his first hours as Commander and Chief. He’s expected to announce the details of the sweeping new actions later today.