Time is a funny thing. Sometimes it whips by blindingly fast. Others, it shuffles slowly like sleepy sloth.
When it comes to the process of the United States choosing and confirming a new leader, time is definitely moving at the second pace. The earliest Democractic candidates running to replace Donald Trump as president began their journey about two years ago(!)—the winner, Joe Biden, said he was running back on April 25, 2019. That's a long road to the White House, the U.S. president's official residence.
But yesterday, Biden finally got there. It was Inauguration Day, the day that a new president is sworn in, or made official.
Usually, this is an event attended by huge crowds, all in a festive mood. As you might expect, that was not the case during the pandemic, but that doesn't mean that there weren't high spirits and highlights!
Joe finally arrives
Speaking of time moving slowly, Biden is someone who has waited a long time for this moment. At 78, he is the oldest president at the time of his inauguration in U.S. history. He ran to be the Democractic nominee for president unsuccessfully two previous times, in 1988 and 2008. But though it may have taken a while, he brings a lot of experience to his new job. And he is no stranger to the White House.
That's because for eight years (2009—2017), he served as vice president to President Obama. He was also a senator for the state of Delaware for an incredible 36 years. It's good that he has so much experience, too, because his government has a lot to tackle.
Big job for him and Kamala
The United States has struggled with the pandemic more than almost any other nation, and this has affected health and jobs. Biden also must contend with a very divided nation that only two weeks ago experienced an attack on government. Right now, it almost feels as though the country is split in two. He spoke about this division in his address, or speech, saying:
We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal. We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts, if we show a little tolerance and humility, and if we’re willing to stand in the other person’s shoes, as my mom would say, just for a moment.
His call for a more tolerant country begins with his vice president, Kamala Harris, who was also sworn in yesterday morning. She is the first female, first Black woman, and first woman of Indian descent to be vice president. America has never had a female president. For many, her arrival was especially powerful. Women's issues were a focus of protest and debate during much of the previous president's term. And because many vice presidents go on to become president (including Biden!), many have hopes that Harris has an even brighter future in store.
A big show and a young woman
Though the swearing in of Biden and Harris was the feature, there were other highlights yesterday. This included some star power, with Lady Gaga singing the National Anthem, Jennifer Lopez performing a medley of songs, and Katy Perry singing her hit "Firework" in the evening. But for us, the best moment came from a young woman we had never heard of before. A Black poet named Amanda Gorman.
Her original poem, 'The Hill We Climb' was only recently finished, inspired partly by the attacks on the U.S. Capitol on January 6. At 22, she is the youngest ever poet to speak at an Inauguration Day. She did exceptionally well. Her words captured how she feels the country can learn and improve, saying:
Somehow, we’ve weathered and witnessed
A nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.
Watch her recite the entire poem below.