Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday will be a scaled-down largely virtual affair as Americans are urged to stay away from Washington.
The transfer of power was already set to be an atypical affair with Donald Trump snubbing the inauguration after repeatedly trying to challenge election results. But the fortification of Washington following this months’ attack on the US Capitol and an effort to reduce crowding because of the deadly coronavirus pandemic means that this will be an inauguration unlike any we have seen in modern times.
So what can we expect today? While the exact start time hasn’t been announced, the event is expected to kick off around 11am ET. Although, while the swearing-in, troop review and military escort will take place in-person, the bulk of the celebrations will occur virtually and there will be no official inaugural ball.
– The proceedings will begin with an invocation read by Rev. Leo J. O’Donovan. Andrea Hall, a Georgia fire captain will recite the Pledge of Allegiance, while Lady Gaga will sing the national anthem. Amanda Gorman, the youngest inaugural poet, will read her work “The Hill We Climb”, a poem about national unity, and Jennifer Lopez will perform.
– Around noon, chief justice John Roberts will administer the oath of office to Mr Biden on the West Front of the Capitol. Kamala Harris, the first Black and first Indian-American to serve as vice president, will be sworn in by Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor.
– Mr Biden will deliver his inaugural address in which he is expected to lay out his plan to fight the pandemic and deliver a message of healing and unity.
– After the ceremony, Mr Biden and Ms Harris and their spouses will participate in a Pass in Review. The longstanding tradition involves a review of the military troops and reflects a peaceful transfer of power to the new Commander-in-Chief.
– Mr Biden and Dr Jill Biden will lay a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with Ms Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff. They will be accompanied by President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, President George W. Bush and Laura Bush, and President Bill Clinton and Secretary Hillary Clinton.
– Mr Biden will then receive a Presidential Escort from 15th Street to the White House.
– The virtual “Parade Across America” featuring performances from communities across the country will begin after Mr Biden enters the White House.
– At 8:30pm ET Tom Hanks will host a prime-time programme featuring remarks by Mr Biden, Ms Harris. The star-studded televised special will also feature musical performances by artists like Bruce Springsteen, Justin Timberlake, John Legend and Demi Lovato. Actors Eva Longoria and Kerry Washington will also participate