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What happened on Inauguration Day 2021? How everything unfolded

President-elect Joe Biden was inaugurated as the new president of the United States.

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Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States by Chief Justice John Roberts as Jill Biden holds the Bible during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, as their children Ashley and Hunter watch.

Andrew Harnik, Associated Press

President-elect Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States on Wednesday.

Biden’s inauguration arrived with a heavy security presence in Washington, D.C., near the Capitol and downtown areas. Much of the area was closed off to the public as National Guard troops protected the area. The show of force came after a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol earlier this month.

Here’s a look at all the major events from the day.


Biden, Harris call for unity during ‘Celebrating America’

9:26 p.m. — Wednesday, Jan. 20

Biden spoke to the United States again about the need for unity during the primetime inauguration special “Celebrating America.” He spoke at the Lincoln Memorial.

  • “It is humbling to stand here in this place in front of these sacred words. Humbling out of respect to President Lincoln and the office we now share and humbling because of you, the American people,” Biden said. “As I said earlier today, we have learned again that democracy is precious and because of you democracy has prevailed.”

Harris offered her first remarks as vice president as well.

  • “This moment embodies our character as a nation. It demonstrates who we are, even in dark times. We not only dream, we do. We not only see what has been, we see what can be. We shoot for the moon, and then we plant our flag on it,” she said.
  • “We are bold, fearless and ambitious. We are undaunted, in our belief that we shall overcome, that we will rise up. This is American aspiration.”

‘Celebrating America’ primetime event honors democracy

9:01 p.m. — Wednesday, Jan. 20

Tom Hanks hosted the “Celebrating America” event on Wednesday night, which paid tribute to the new Biden administration, the United States and democracy as a whole.

Hanks talked about the importance of democracy, according to Entertainment Tonight.

  • “I’m at the Lincoln Memorial, on the National Mall, in our nation’s secured capital city,” a stoic Hanks shared from the steps of the iconic landmark. ”The last few weeks, last few years, we’ve witnessed deep divisions and a troubling rancor in our land. But tonight we ponder the United States of America. The practice of our democracy, the foundations of our republic, the integrity of our Constitution, the hope and dreams we all share for a more perfect union.”
  • “Inauguration Day is about much more than the swearing in of our next national leaders. This day is about witnessing the permanence of our American ideal,” Hanks continued. “Every four years we hear the words that will empower us all on the journey ahead, the message that can unite us, as we begin a new passage from where we are to where we can be. A trek to a common goal, to the promise of our promised land.”

Jon Bon Jovi sang the song “Here Comes the Sun” at the event, sharing a brighter and more positive message for the country, according to Billboard.

And Katy Perry had one of the highlights of the night, singing her classic “Firework” song, that once topped the charts, as a massive fireworks display started to round out the night.


President Biden signs executive orders on first day in office

3:48 p.m. — Wednesday, Jan. 20

President Biden spent his first day in office signing several executives actions, some which will reverse some policies and decisions set out by the outgoing Trump administration.

  • The executive orders mainly aimed to help with COVID-19 relief, helping underserved communities and assist the world with climate change.

Some of the 15 executive orders include:

You can read more about the executive orders over at CBS News.


President Biden arrives at the White House

1:51 p.m. — Wednesday, Jan. 20

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden arrived at the White House Wednesday afternoon after a short walk from the motorcade.

  • This was Biden’s first appearance on the White House grounds. (Former President Donald Trump didn’t invite the Bidens into the White House to help with the transition, according to CNN Wire Service.)


Amanda Gorman recites a poem at the inauguration

10:32 a.m. — Wednesday, Jan. 20

Amanda Gorman made history Wednesday as the youngest poet in recent history to read a poem at a presidential inauguration.

Her poem focused on democracy and the need to believe in truth. It also spoke about the importance of how the United States will be remembered.

  • “But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated. In this truth, in this faith we trust. For while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us.”
  • “A nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.”

She also talked about how the country will rise up anew.

  • “We will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one. ... There is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it — if only we’re brave enough to be it.”

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American poet Amanda Gorman reads a poem during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.

Patrick Semansky, Associated Press


Biden calls on Americans to overcome divisions in speech

10:01 a.m. — Wednesday, Jan. 20

President Joe Biden — minutes after being sworn-in as the 46th president of the United States — gave a speech to the entire nation, calling for unity and saying “without unity, there is no peace.”

  • “This is a great nation. We are good people.”
  • “The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer.”
  • “Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this — bringing America together, uniting our people, uniting our nation, and I ask every American to join me.”
  • “Before God and all of you, I give you my word, I will always level with you. I will defend the Constitution, I will defend democracy. I will defend America.”
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President Joe Biden speaks during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.

Patrick Semansky, Associated Press

Biden briefly mentioned the U.S. Capitol riots that transpired earlier in January, saying that the events tested democracy and the United States. But the country prevailed.

  • “We have learned again that democracy is precious, democracy is fragile and at this hour my friends, democracy has prevailed.”
  • “A riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground. It did not happen. It will never happen. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever.”
  • “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.”
  • “We must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured.”

Biden — for his first act president — called for a moment of silence and prayer to honor the more than 400,000 Americans who have died from the novel coronavirus.

  • “As the Bible says, ‘Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.’ We will get through this together. Together.”

Joe Biden sworn-in as president

9:49 a.m. — Wednesday, Jan. 20

Joe Biden was officially sworn-in as president of the United States Wednesday morning by Chief Justice John Roberts.

  • Biden becomes the 46th president in U.S. history.
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Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States by Chief Justice John Roberts as Jill Biden holds the Bible during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.

Saul Loeb, Associated Press


Kamala Harris sworn-in as vice president

9:44 a.m. — Wednesday, Jan. 20

Kamala Harris was sworn-in as vice president of the United States by Justice Sonia Sotomayor — the first Latina to serve in the Supreme Court.

  • Harris is now, officially, the vice president of the United States. She is the first Black, South Asian and woman to hold this office.
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Kamala Harris is sworn in as vice president by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor as Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, holds the Bible during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.

Saul Loeb, Associated Press


Lady Gaga performs the national anthem

9:40 a.m. — Wednesday, Jan. 20

Lady Gaga performed the national anthem from the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday morning.

  • The “Star is Born” actress sang with a golden microphone. She greeted Biden before her performance.
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Lady Gaga sings the national anthem before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington.

Greg Nash, Associated Press


Klobuchar champions Biden, America at the inauguration

9:26 a.m. — Wednesday, Jan. 20

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar had one of the first speeches Wednesday morning at the presidential inauguration of Biden and Harris.

Klobuchar talked about how the inauguration is the celebration of the United States and all its people.

  • “This is the day when our democracy picks itself up, brushes off the dust and does what it always does, goes forward.”
  • “We celebrate the ordinary people doing extraordinary things for our nation.”
  • “We celebrate our first African American, our first Asian American and our first woman vice president in Kamala Harris.”

Joe and Jill Biden introduced

9:23 a.m. — Wednesday, Jan. 20

President-elect Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, were introduced at the presidential inauguration Wednesday morning, receiving thunderous applause from the crowd.


Biden’s inauguration begins

7:57 a.m. — Wednesday, Jan. 20

Biden will be sworn in as the 46th president of the United States and deliver his inaugural address on Wednesday morning.

  • Biden and Harris will be sworn in as president and vice president around 10 a.m. MT.
  • Biden will then deliver his first remarks as president of the country. The theme is expected to center around unity.

Trump issues farewell at Joint Base Andrews, says ‘we will be back in some form’

6:45 a.m. — Wednesday, Jan. 20

President Trump issued a farewell address to the nation at Joint Base Andrews on Wednesday morning, wishing good luck to the Biden administration and saying that he will return “in some form.”

  • “This has been an incredible four years. We’ve accomplished so much together.”
  • “People have no idea how hard this family worked. Could have had a much easier life.”
  • “We left it all on the field.”
  • “You are amazing people. This is a great, great country. It is my greatest honor and privilege to have been your president.”

Trump touted his administration’s success, including the creation of the Space Force and tax reform.

  • “I hope they don’t raise your taxes. But if they do, I told you so!”

Trump then referenced the coronavirus pandemic in the past tense. He mentioned that the COVID-19 vaccine is a medical miracle that his administration helped create.

  • “As bad as the pandemic was, we were hit so hard, like the entire world, so hard. ... We did something that is really considered a medical miracle. They’re calling it a miracle, and that’s the vaccine.”
  • “It was supposed to take a long time. We have two out. We have another coming out almost immediately.”

Trump then paid respect to people affected by the coronavirus.

  • “Be careful, be very careful.”

And Trump teased what’s to come next:

  • “I will always fight for you. I will be watching, I will be listening. And I will tell you that the future of this country has never been better.”
  • “We will be back in some form.”
  • “So have a good life. We will see you soon.”
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President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump wave to a crowd as they board Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.

Luis M. Alvarez, Associated Press


Trump departs White House

6:16 a.m. — Wednesday, Jan. 20

President Donald Trump left the White House for the final time Wednesday morning. He walked out of the White House and entered Marine One, which took off toward Joint Base Andrews.

  • Trump will later travel to Florida instead of Biden’s inauguration.

Trump exited the White House with Melania Trump. He briefly spoke to reporters, who were on scene to watch Trump’s departure.

  • It was “the honor of a lifetime,” Trump said, according to reporters. “Thank you.”
  • He said he wanted to “say goodbye.”
  • “We love the American people.”

Biden set to reverse Trump decisions

5:58 a.m. — Wednesday, Jan. 20

Biden is set to sign a number of executive orders Wednesday as he takes office as president of the United States.

  • Per The Washington Post, Biden will reverse major Trump decisions, “including a ban on travel from several majority-Muslim nations and the declaration of a national emergency that Trump used as a way to circumvent Congress to obtain funding for his long-promised border wall.”
  • Biden’s transition team released a list of decisions the president-elect plans to make once he is sworn in as president.

Biden, Harris to make history

Biden and Harris will be sworn in as president and vice president around 10 a.m. MT.

  • Biden will deliver his first remarks as president of the country thereafter.
  • On Wednesday night, Biden and Harris will take part in a virtual television event titled “Celebrating America.”

All major networks will have coverage of the inauguration.

  • Major media networks like CNNFox NewsMSNBC and Noticias Telemundo will have extended coverage.