WASHINGTON – President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. will arrive in the nation’s capital on Tuesday evening for a groundbreaking ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in honor of the nearly 400,000 people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic which will be his first priority afterwards he takes the oath the next day.
The grim memory will kick off two days of in-person and virtual events as Mr. Biden takes the oath of office on January 20, becoming the 46th President of the United States at a time of economic struggle and cultural upheaval in the sequel to President Trump’s Four Years in the White House.
Mr Biden planned a mix of festive and upbeat events to mark the occasion – singer Garth Brooks was the latest addition to the list of those performing at his swearing-in ceremony – as well as more serious moments aimed at to mark difficult times. that many Americans face when he takes office.
Instead of an in-person parade along Pennsylvania Avenue, Mr. Biden’s inaugural committee on Monday provided details of a “virtual parade across America” that will begin at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday afternoon. swearing-in by Mr. Biden.
The parade will begin with Mr. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris heading to the White House escorted by battery lines from the University of Delaware and Howard University, their alma maters. The virtual “parade” will feature performances by the United States Coast Guard Band and the US Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon, as well as marching bands, drill crews, boy scouts, dancers and drummers from across the country.
The events will be streamed live on multiple platforms, officials said.
On Tuesday, Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris, along with their families, will be in attendance as 400 lights are turned on to illuminate the perimeter of the Reflecting Pool. Each light is believed to represent approximately 1,000 Americans who will have perished from the virus by the time it is sworn in.
This event will kick off “A Moment of National Unity” at 5:30 p.m. EST, which will feature commemorations similar to the Empire State Building, the Space Needle in Seattle and other landmarks across the country, with events also planned in Mr. Biden’s hometowns. , Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Wilmington, Del.
The inauguration “marks the start of a new national journey – one that renews its commitment to honor its dead and rise to greater heights in their honor,” said Inaugural Committee CEO Tony Allen, president of Delaware State University, in a statement. declaration.
Cardinal Wilton Gregory, Archbishop of Washington, will deliver the invocation at the Lincoln Memorial event. Two acclaimed gospel singers, Yolanda Adams and Lori Marie Key, will perform at the commemoration.
In recent days, committee staff have reached out to church and civic leaders across the country to participate in the memorial, with a particular focus on involving black and Latin communities, who have been disproportionately hit by the pandemic. .
Mr Biden said reaching out to those who oppose his candidacy will be a central theme of his inaugural address as he urges a divided America to come together to face the pandemic and other challenges.
On Monday, officials announced that Mr. Brooks would perform on Wednesday afternoon, adding to a growing list of celebrities who will be on hand to usher in the Biden era. During a briefing with reporters, Mr Brooks said he was honored to participate in the peaceful transfer of power.
“I just feel lucky to be able to be a part of it,” Mr. Brooks said. “And what the administration is doing now, the main message is unity. Right in my alley, because I think if we’re going to go somewhere, we’ll get there together.
Joseph R. Biden Jr. will become President of the United States at noon on January 20 in a scaled-down dedication ceremony. While the key elements will remain traditional, many events will be scaled down and “redesigned” to better tailor the celebration to a nation battling the coronavirus. Mr. Biden will be sworn in by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. on the Western Front of the Capitol sometime before noon. The new president is then expected to deliver his inaugural address and conduct a review of military troops, as tradition dictates. But instead of a traditional parade before cheering onlookers along Pennsylvania Avenue as the new president, vice president and their families make their way to the White House more than a mile away, there will be an official escort with representatives from each branch of the military for one. a block.
President Trump announced on Friday that he would not attend Mr. Biden’s inauguration. Mr Biden called the move “one of the few things he and I have ever agreed on. Yet it is a major break with the tradition for a president to skip the ceremonial heart of the country’s democracy: the peaceful transfer of power.
George W. Bush, has confirmed that he will travel to Washington for the day of the inauguration, with Laura Bush, the former first lady. Barack Obama and Bill Clinton are also expected to attend, along with former First Ladies Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton. This year tickets are not available to members of the public. Planners are urging people to stay home and participate in virtual inaugural events to prevent large crowds who could easily spread the coronavirus. The events will be broadcast live by the inaugural presidential committee and the New York Times.
The 20th Amendment to the Constitution requires that the term of office of each elected president and vice-president begin at noon on January 20 of the year following the election. Each president has taken an oath and he cannot assume his duties without doing so. Symbolically, it marks the peaceful transfer of power from the current president to the next. Inauguration day will be all the more important this year as Mr Biden ascends to the presidency at a time when political division has threatened the country’s democratic institutions and his predecessor has made extreme efforts to stay in power.
Mr Brooks declined to say what he would sing at the inauguration, but said he likely would not rehearse his interpretation of “We Shall Be Free”, which he sang at the President’s inauguration. Barack Obama 12 years ago.
“There are a lot of songs of love and unity that you can choose from, from the greatest writers you know in the world,” he said. “Because we are all humans. We live within the border of the United States, but the truth is, the message that comes to us is passed on to all of us around the world.
Mr Biden spent about 45 minutes Monday morning volunteering at a food bank in Philadelphia to mark the National Day of Service and Martin Luther King’s birthday.
The president-elect worked on a conveyor belt assembling food boxes at Philabundance, an organization founded in 1984 that distributes food to pantries and emergency shelters in nine counties in Pennsylvania, according to the transition team from Mr. Biden.
Wearing a black mask, a Philabundance baseball cap and his aviator sunglasses, Mr. Biden placed cans, two at a time, in each box of food. And Jill Biden, who will become the first lady on Wednesday, added packets of rice to the boxes as disco music played over speakers.
Mr Biden’s decision to volunteer at the food bank on Monday was consistent with many of his predecessors on both sides who frequently engaged in a public service event over the holidays. Mr. Trump largely ignored the vacation service component. In 2018, he was criticized for playing golf instead.
Mr. Trump’s public schedule for Monday indicated, as has been the case on most days in recent weeks, that he planned to “work from early in the morning until late in the evening” and “make a lot of calls. and to hold many meetings ”.