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The Inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris

On Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States.

Video Transcript

[MUSICAL FLOURISH]

- We want to go now to those live images. We have Senator Amy Klobuchar speaking now.

AMY KLOBUCHAR: To cherish it and defend it-- it is the moment when they become, as we all should be, guardians of our country. Have we become too jaded-- too accustomed to the ritual of the passing of the torch of democracy to truly appreciate what a blessing and a privilege it is to witness this moment? I think not.

Two weeks ago, when an angry, violent mob staged an insurrection and desecrated this temple of our democracy, it awakened us to our responsibilities as Americans. This is the day when our democracy picks itself up, brushes off the dust, and does what America always does-- goes forward as a nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

[APPLAUSE]

This conveyance of a sacred trust between our leaders and our people takes place in front of this shining Capitol dome for a reason. When Abraham Lincoln gave his first inaugural address in front of this Capitol, the dome was only partially constructed-- braced by ropes of steel. He promised he would finish it. He was criticized for spending funds on it during the Civil War. To those critics, he replied, "If the people see the Capitol going on, it is a sign we intend the union shall go on." And it did, and it will.

[APPLAUSE]

Generations of Americans gave their lives to preserve our republic in this place. Great legislation to protect civil rights and economic security and lead the world was debated and crafted under this dome. Now it falls on all of us, not just the two leaders we are inaugurating today, to take up the torch of our democracy-- not as a weapon of political arson but as an instrument for good. We pledge today never to take our democracy for granted as we celebrate its remarkable strength.

We celebrate its resilience-- its grit. We celebrate the ordinary people doing extraordinary things for our nation-- the doctors and nurses on the front line of this pandemic, the officers in the Capitol, a new generation never giving up hope for justice. We celebrate a new president, Joe Biden, who vows to restore the soul of America and cross the river of our divides to a higher plane. And we celebrate our first African-American, first Asian-American, and first woman vice president.

[APPLAUSE]

Kamala Harris-- who stands on the shoulders of so many on this platform who have forged the way to this day. When she takes the oath of office, little girls and boys across the world will know that anything and everything is possible. And in the end, that is America. Our democracy-- a country of so much good. And today, on these Capitol steps and before this glorious field of flags, we rededicate ourselves to its cause. Thank you.

[APPLAUSE]

It is now my honor to introduce to you the senator who has worked with me and so many others to make this ceremony possible-- my friend and the chair of the Inaugural Committee, Missouri Senator Roy Blunt.

[APPLAUSE]

ROY BLUNT: Well, I should have known when Senator Klobuchar got involved, at least there'd be a touch of snow up here this morning.

[LAUGHTER]

Of all the things we had considered, I don't think snow was on my agenda until I walked out the door a moment ago. But thank you, Senator Klobuchar, and thanks to the other members of the Joint Congressional Committee on the Inauguration as we officially began the 59th Inaugural Ceremony. I also want to thank the Joint Committee staff and our partners-- particularly our security partners-- for the day the way they've dealt with unprecedented circumstances.

When I chaired the inauguration four years ago, I shared President Reagan's 1981 description of this event as commonplace and miraculous. Commonplace because we've done it every four years since 1789-- miraculous because we've done it every four years since 1789. Americans have celebrated this moment during war, during depression, and now during pandemic.

Once again, all three branches of our government come together as the Constitution envisions. Once again, we renew our commitment to our determined democracy forging a more perfect union. That theme, for this inauguration-- our determined democracy forging a more perfect union-- was announced by the Joint Committee before the election with the belief that the United States can only fulfill its promise and set an example for others if we are always working to be better than we have been.

The Constitution established that determined democracy with its first three words, declaring the people as the source of the government. The Articles of Confederation hadn't done that. The Magna Carta hadn't done that. Only the Constitution says that government exists because the people are the source of the reason it exists.

They immediately followed those first three words with the words to form a more perfect union. The founders did not say to form a perfect union. They did not claim that in our new country nothing would need to be improved. Fortunately, they understood that always working to be better would be the hallmark of a great democracy. The freedoms we have today-- the nation we have today-- is not here just because it happened-- and they aren't complete. A great democracy working through the successes and failures of our history striving to be better than it had been.

And we are more than we have been, and we are less than we hope to be. The assault on our Capitol-- at this very place, just two weeks ago-- reminds us that a government designed to balance and check itself is both fragile and resilient. During the last year, the pandemic challenged our free and open society and called for extraordinary determination and sacrifice and still challenges us today. Meeting that challenge head-on have been and are health care workers, scientists, first responders, essential frontline workers, and so many others we depend on in so many ways.

Today we come to this moment-- people all over the world, as we're here, are watching and will watch what we do here. Our government comes together. The Congress and the courts join the transition of executive responsibility. One political party more pleased today and on every inaugural day than the other-- but this is not a moment of division, it's a moment of unification.

A new administration begins and brings with it a new beginning. And with that, our great national debate goes forward, and a determined democracy will continue to be essential in pursuit of a more perfect union and a better future for all Americans. What a privilege for me to join you today. Thank you.

[APPLAUSE]

I'm pleased call to the podium a longtime friend of the president-elect and his family, Father Leo O'Donovan, to lead us in an invocation. Please stand if you are able and remain standing for the national anthem and the pledge to our flag.

LEO O'DONOVAN: Gracious and merciful God, at this sacred time, we come before you in need-- indeed, on our knees. But we come still more with hope and with our eyes raised anew to the vision of a more perfect union in our land. A union of all our citizens to promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.

We are a people of many races, creeds, and colors-- national backgrounds, cultures, and styles. Now, far more numerous and on land much faster than when Archbishop John Carroll wrote his prayer for the inauguration of George Washington 232 years ago. Archbishop Carroll prayed that you, oh, creator of all, would assist with your Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude the president of these United States, that his administration may be conducted in righteousness and be eminently useful to your people.

Today we confess our past failures to live according to our vision of equality, inclusion, and freedom for all. Yet we resolutely commit still more now to renewing the vision-- to caring for one another in word and deed, especially the least fortunate among us, and so becoming a light for the world. There is a power in each and every one of us that lives by turning to every other one of us-- a thrust of the spirit to cherish and care and stand by others and, above all, those most in need. It is called love, and its path is to give ever more of itself.

Today it is called American patriotism-- born not of power and privilege, but of care for the common good, with malice toward none and with charity for all. For our new president, we beg of you the wisdom Solomon sought when he knelt before you and prayed for an understanding heart so that I can govern your people and know the difference between right and wrong. We trust in the counsel of the letter of James-- if any of you lacks wisdom you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

Pope Francis has reminded us how important it is to dream together. "By ourselves," he wrote, "we risk seeing mirages-- things that are not there. Dreams, on the other hand, are built together." Be with us, holy mystery of love, as we dream together. Help us, under our new president, to reconcile the people of our land, restore our dream, and invest it with peace, and justice, and the joy that is the overflow of love. To the glory of your name forever, amen.

- Ladies and gentlemen, please remain standing for the presentation of our national colors by the Armed Forces Color Guard, the singing of our national anthem, and for the Pledge of Allegiance.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Ladies and gentlemen, here for the singing of our national anthem, accompanied by the president's own United States Marine Band, please welcome Lady Gaga.

[APPLAUSE]

[MUSIC - LADY GAGA, "THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER"]

LADY GAGA: O, say, can you see by the dawn's early light what so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming? Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight, o'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming. And the rocket's red glare-- the bombs bursting in air-- gave proof through the night that our flag was still there. O, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

[APPLAUSE]

- Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome, from the city of South Fulton, Georgia, Fire and Rescue Department, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, Local 3920, Fire Captain Andrea M Hall for the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance.

AMANDA HALL: I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

[APPLAUSE]

AMY KLOBUCHAR: What you are all about to be part of, America, is a historic moment of firsts. To administer the oath to our first African-American, our first Asian-American, and our first woman vice president, Kamala Harris--

[APPLAUSE]

--it is my great privilege to welcome to the inaugural stage the first Latina to ever serve on the Supreme Court of the United States of America, Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

- Ladies and gentlemen, please remain standing for the Oath of Office, followed by musical honors.

SONIA SOTOMAYOR: Please raise your right hand, and repeat after me. I, Kamala Devi Harris, do solemnly swear.

KAMALA HARRIS: I, Kamala Devi Harris do solemnly swear.

SONIA SOTOMAYOR: That I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

KAMALA HARRIS: That I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

SONIA SOTOMAYOR: Against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

KAMALA HARRIS: Against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

SONIA SOTOMAYOR: That I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.

KAMALA HARRIS: That I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.

SONIA SOTOMAYOR: That I take this obligation freely.

KAMALA HARRIS: That I take this obligation freely.

SONIA SOTOMAYOR: Without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.

KAMALA HARRIS: Without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.

SONIA SOTOMAYOR: That I will well and faithfully discharge.

KAMALA HARRIS: That I will well and faithfully discharge.

SONIA SOTOMAYOR: The duties of the office on which I am about to enter.

KAMALA HARRIS: The duties of the office upon which I am about to enter.

SONIA SOTOMAYOR: So help me God.

KAMALA HARRIS: So help me God.

SONIA SOTOMAYOR: [INAUDIBLE]

[APPLAUSE]

[MUSIC PLAYING]

- Ladies and gentlemen, please be seated. Please welcome Jennifer Lopez, to performed "This Land is Your Land" and "America the Beautiful" accompanied by members of The President's Own United States Marine Band.

[APPLAUSE]

[MUSIC - JENNIFER LOPEZ, "THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND"]

JENNIFER LOPEZ: (SINGING) This land is your land. This land is my land. From California to the New York islands. From the Redwood forest to the Gulf stream waters. This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking down that ribbon of highway, I saw above me an endless skyway. I saw below me that golden valley. This land was made for you and me.

O, this land-- this land. This land was made for you and me. O, this land-- this land. This land was made for you and me. You and me. Oh!

[MUSIC - JENNIFER LOPEZ, "AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL"]

America, America, God shed his grace on thee and crowned thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

(SINGING) Let's get loud! 'Cause this land was made for you and me.

[APPLAUSE]

AMY KLOBUCHAR: Well, that was great. The sun is shining, and Mr, President-elect, this is the first inauguration in the history of America where J.Lo was the warm-up act for Chief Justice Roberts.

[LAUGHTER]

With that, it is now my distinct honor to introduce the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, John Roberts, to administer the presidential oath to the next president of the United States, Joseph R. Biden.

[APPLAUSE]

- Ladies and gentlemen, please stand for the oath of office, followed by musical honors.

JOHN ROBERTS: Please raise your right hand, and repeat after me. I, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr, do solemnly swear.

JOE BIDEN: I, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr, do solemnly swear.

JOHN ROBERTS: That I will faithfully execute.

JOE BIDEN: That I will faithfully execute.

JOHN ROBERTS: The office of President of the United States.

JOE BIDEN: The office of President of the United States.

JOHN ROBERTS: And will, to the best of my ability.

JOE BIDEN: And will, to the best of my ability.

JOHN ROBERTS: Preserve, protect, and defend.

JOE BIDEN: Preserve, protect, and defend.

JOHN ROBERTS: The Constitution of the United States.

JOE BIDEN: The Constitution of the United States.

JOHN ROBERTS: So help you God?

JOE BIDEN: So help me God.

JOHN ROBERTS: Congratulations, Mr President.

[APPLAUSE]

[MUSIC PLAYING]

[APPLAUSE]

- Ladies and gentlemen, please be seated.

AMY KLOBUCHAR: My fellow Americans-- a moment we have all been waiting for. It is now my great privilege and high honor to be the first person to officially introduce the 46th President of the United States, Joseph R Biden Jr!

[APPLAUSE]

JOE BIDEN: [INAUDIBLE] Chief Justice Roberts, Vice President Harris, Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, Leader McConnell, Vice President Pence-- my distinguished guests, my fellow Americans-- 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, America has been tested anew, and America has risen to the challenge.

Today we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate but of a cause-- the cause of democracy. The will of the people has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded. We've learned again that democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile. And at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.

[APPLAUSE]

So now, on this hallowed ground where, just a few days ago, violence sought to shake the Capitol's very foundation, we come together as one nation under God, indivisible, to carry out the peaceful transfer of power as we have for more than two centuries. As we look ahead in our uniquely American way-- restless, bold, optimistic-- and set our sights on the nation we know we can be and we must be, I thank my predecessors of both parties for their presence here today. I thank them from the bottom of my heart. And I know--

[APPLAUSE]

And I know the resilience of our Constitution and the strength-- the strength of our nation. As does President Carter, who I spoke with last night, who cannot be with us today but whom we salute for his lifetime of service.

[APPLAUSE]

I have just taken the sacred oath each of those patriots have taken, the oath first sworn by George Washington. But the American story depends not on any one of us-- not on some of us, but on all of us-- on We, the People who seek a more perfect union. This is a great nation. We are good people. And over the centuries-- through storm and strife, in peace and in war-- we've come so far.

But we still have far to go. We'll press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do in this winter of peril and significant possibilities. Much to repair, much to restore, much to heal, much to build, and much to gain.

Few people in our nation's history have been more challenged or found a time more challenging or difficult than the time we're in now. A once in a century virus that silently stalks the country has taken as many lives in one year as America lost in all of World War II. Millions of jobs have been lost, hundreds of thousands of businesses closed. A cry for racial justice some 400 years in the making moves us-- the dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer.

[APPLAUSE]

The cry for survival comes from the planet itself-- a cry that can't be any more desperate or any more clear. And now a rise of political extremism-- white supremacy, domestic terrorism-- that we must confront and we will defeat.

[APPLAUSE]

To overcome these challenges-- to restore the soul and secure the future of America-- requires so much more than words. It requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy, unity. Unity. In another January, on New Year's day in 1863, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. When he put pen to paper, the president said, and I quote, "If my name ever goes down into history, it'll be for this act, and my whole soul is in it."

"My whole soul was in it." 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 in this cause.

[APPLAUSE]

Uniting to fight the foes we face. Anger, resentment, and hatred-- extremism, lawlessness, violence-- disease, joblessness, and hopelessness. With unity, we can do great things-- important things. We can right wrongs. We can put people to work in good jobs. We can teach our children in safe schools.

We can overcome the deadly virus. We can reward work and rebuild the middle class and make health care secure for all. We can deliver racial justice. And we can make America once again, the leading force for good in the world.

I know speaking of unity can sound to some like a foolish fantasy these days. I know the forces that divide us are deep, and they are real. But I also know they are not new. Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal-- that we're all created equal-- and the harsh, ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear, demonization have long torn us apart.

The battle is perennial, and victory is never assured. Through Civil War, the Great Depression, the World War, 9/11-- through struggle, sacrifice, and setbacks, our better angels have always prevailed. In each of these moments, enough of us-- enough of us-- have come together to carry all of us forward.

And we can do that now! History, faith, and reason show the way-- the way of unity. We can see each other not as adversaries but as neighbors. We can treat each other with dignity and respect. We can join forces, stop the shouting, and lower the temperature. For without unity, there is no peace-- only bitterness and fury. No progress-- only exhausting outrage. No nation-- only a state of chaos.

This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward. And we must meet this moment as the United States of America. If we do that, I guarantee you we will not fail. We have never ever ever ever failed in America when we've acted together.

And so today-- at this time, in this place-- let's start afresh. All of us. Let's begin to listen to one another again. Hear one another-- see one another. Show respect to one another.

Politics doesn't have to be a raging fire destroying everything in its path. Every disagreement doesn't have to be a cause for total war. And we must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured.

[APPLAUSE]

My fellow Americans, we have to be different than this. America has to be better than this, and I believe America is so much better than this. Just look around. Here we stand in the shadow of the Capitol dome-- as was mentioned earlier, completed amid the Civil War when the Union itself was literally hanging in the balance.

Yet we endured. We prevailed. Here we stand, looking out on the great mall where Dr. King spoke of his dream. Here we stand, where 108 years ago at another inaugural thousands of protesters tried to block brave women marching for the right to vote. And today we mark the swearing in of the first woman in American history elected to national office, Vice President Kamala Harris.

[APPLAUSE]

Don't tell me things can't change! Here we stand, across the Potomac from Arlington Cemetery, where heroes who gave the last full measure of devotion rest in eternal peace. And here we stand, just days after 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! Not ever!

[APPLAUSE]

To all those who have supported our campaign, I am humbled by the faith you've placed in us. To all those who did not support us, let me say this-- hear me out as we move forward. Take a measure of me and my heart. And if you still disagree, so be it. That's democracy. That's America. The right to dissent peaceably within the guardrails of our Republic is perhaps this nation's greatest strength.

Yet here we clearly-- disagreement must not lead to disunion. And I pledge this to you, I will be a president for all Americans-- all Americans.

[APPLAUSE]

And I promise you, I will fight as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did.

[APPLAUSE]

Many centuries ago, St. Augustine, a saint in my church, wrote that "a people was a multitude defined by the common objects of their love." Defined by the common objects of their love-- what are the common objects we as Americans love? That define us as Americans? I think we know. Opportunity, security, liberty, dignity, respect, honor-- and yes, the truth.

[APPLAUSE]

Recent weeks and months have taught us a painful lesson-- there is truth, and there are lies. Lies told for power and for profit. And each of us has a duty and a responsibility as citizens, as Americans, and especially as leaders-- leaders who have pledged to honor our Constitution and protect our nation-- to defend the truth and defeat the lies.

[APPLAUSE]

Look, I understand that many of my fellow Americans view the future with fear and trepidation. I understand they worry about their jobs. I understand, like my dad, they lay in bed staring at night staring at the ceiling wondering, can I keep my health care? Can I pay my mortgage? Thinking about their families-- about what comes next.

I promise you, I get it. But the answer is not to turn inward-- to retreat into competing factions, distrusting those who don't look like you or worship the way you do or don't get their news from the same source as you do. 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, stand in the shoes.

Because here's the thing about life-- there's no accounting for what fate will deal you. Some days when you need a hand-- there are other days when we're called to lend a hand. That's how it has to be. It's what we do for one another. And if we are this way, our country will be stronger-- more prosperous-- more ready for the future. And we can still disagree.

My fellow Americans, in the work ahead of us, we're going to need each other. We need all our strength to persevere through this dark winter. We're entering what may be the toughest and deadliest period of the virus. We must set aside politics and finally face this pandemic as one nation. One nation.

[APPLAUSE]

And I promise you this, as the Bible says, weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. We will get through this together. Together!

[APPLAUSE]

Look, folks, all my colleagues I served with in the House and the Senate up here, we all understand the world is watching-- watching all of us today. So here is my message to those beyond our borders. America has been tested, and we've come out stronger for it.

We will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again not to beat yesterday's challenges but today's and tomorrow's challenges. And we'll lead not merely by the example of our power but by the power of our example.

[APPLAUSE]

We'll be a strong and trusted partner for peace, progress, and security. Look, you all know, we've been through so much in this nation. In my first act as president, I'd like to ask you to join me in a moment of silent prayer. Remember all of those who we lost this past year to the pandemic-- those 400,000 fellow Americans, moms, dads, husbands, wives, sons, daughters, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. We'll honor them by becoming the people and the nation we know we can and should be. So I ask you, let's say a silent prayer for those who have lost their lives and those left behind and for our country.

Amen.

Folks, this is a time of testing. We face an attack on our democracy and on truth. A raging virus, growing inequity, the sting of systemic racism, a climate in crisis, America's role in the world-- any one of these would be enough to challenge us in profound ways. But the fact is we face them all at once, presenting this nation with one of the gravest responsibilities we've had.

Now we're going to be tested. Are we going to step up, all of us? It's time for boldness, for there is so much to do. And this is certain-- I promise you, we will be judged-- you and I-- by how we resolve these cascading crises of our era. We will rise to the occasion, is the question.

Will we master this rare and difficult hour? Will we meet our obligations and pass along a new and better world to our children? I believe we must. I'm sure you do as well. I believe we will.

And when we do, we'll write the next great chapter in the history of the United States of America-- the American story, a story that might sound something like a song that means a lot to me. It's called "American Anthem." And there's one verse that stands out, at least for me.

And it goes like this, "the work and prayers of a century have brought us to this day. What shall be our legacy? What will our children say? Let me know in my heart when my days are through. America, America, I gave my best to you."

Let's add-- lets us add our own work and prayers to the unfolding story of our great nation. If we do this, then, when our days are through, our children and our children's children will say of us, they gave their best. They did their duty. They healed a broken land.

My fellow Americans, I close the day where I began, with a sacred oath. Before God and all of you, I give you my word. I will always level with you. I will defend the Constitution. I'll defend our democracy. I'll defend America. And I'll give all-- all of you-- keep everything I do in your service.

Thinking not of power but of possibilities. Not of personal interest but the public good. And together, we shall write an American story of hope, not fear. Of unity, not division. Of light, not darkness. A story of decency and dignity, love and healing, greatness and goodness. May this be the story that guides us, the story that inspires us, and the story that tells ages yet to come that we answered the call of history.

We met the moment. Democracy and hope-- truth and justice-- did not die on our watch but thrive. That America secured liberty at home and stood once again as a beacon to the world. That is what we owe our forebears, one another, and generation to follow. So with purpose and resolve, we turn to those tasks of our time-- sustained by faith, driven by conviction, and devoted to one another and the country we love with all our hearts. May God bless America, and may God protect our troops. Thank you, America.

[APPLAUSE]

- Ladies and gentlemen, please be seated. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Garth Brooks to perform "Amazing Grace."

[MUSIC - GARTH BROOKS, "AMAZING GRACE"]

GARTH BROOKS: (SINGING) Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I am found-- was blind but now I see. When we've been there 10,000 years, bright, shining as the sun, we've no less days to sing God's praise than when we've first begun.

I'm going to ask you this last verse with me-- not just the people here, but the people at home-- at work-- as one, united.

(SINGING) Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I'm found. Was blind but now I see.

[APPLAUSE]

ROY BLUNT: It's hard not to reminded of--

[APPLAUSE]

Hard not to be reminded of President Obama's singing that same song at the Mother Emanuel Church.

[APPLAUSE]

A song that in our culture is close to both poetry and prayer as you could possibly come. And we're going to finish with those two things. Let me introduce Amanda Gorman, our nation's first ever National Poet Laureate.

[APPLAUSE]

[APPLAUSE]

AMANDA GORMAN: Mr. President, Dr. Biden, Madam Vice President, Mr. Emhoff, Americans, and the world.

When day comes we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade? The loss we carry, a sea we must wade. We braved the belly of the beast. We've learned that quiet isn't always peace and the norms and notions of what just is isn't always just-ice.

And yet the dawn is hours before we knew it. Somehow we do it. Somehow we've weathered and witnessed a nation that isn't broken but simply unfinished. We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president only to find herself reciting for one.

And yes, we are far from polished-- far from pristine-- but that doesn't mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect. We are striving to forge our union with purpose-- to compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters, and conditions of man. And so we lift our gaze is not to what stands between us but what stands before us.

We close the divide, because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside. We lay down their arms so we can reach out our arms to one another. We seek harm to none and harmony for all. Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true.

That even as we grieved, we grew. That even as we hurt, we hoped. That even as we tired, we tried. That we'll forever be tied together, victorious. Not because we will never again know defeat-- but because we will never again sow division.

Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree and no one shall make them afraid. If we're to live up to our own time, then victory won't lie in the blade but in all the bridges we've made. That is the promise to glade. The hill we climb, if only we dare it.

Because being American is more than a pride we inherit. It's the past we step into and how we repair it. We've seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it-- would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.

And this effort very nearly succeeded. 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.

This is the era of just redemption. We feared at its inception. We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour. But within it, we've found the power to author a new chapter. To offer hope and laughter to ourselves.

So while once we asked, how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe? Now we assert, how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us? We will not march back to what was but move to what shall be-- a country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free.

We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation, because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation. Our blunders become their burdens.

But one thing is certain. If we merge mercy with might and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children's birthright. So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left with. Every breath from my bronze pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.

We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the West. We will rise from the windswept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution. We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states. We will rise from the sunbaked South. We will rebuild, reconcile, and recover.

And every known nook of our nation and every corner called our country-- our people diverse and beautiful will emerge battered and beautiful. When day come comes we step out of the shade aflame and unafraid, the new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light, if only we're brave enough to see it-- if only we're brave enough to be it.

[APPLAUSE]

ROY BLUNT: Thank you, Amanda Gorman. Now, for our benediction, I'm pleased to introduce Reverend Dr. Sylvester Beaman, the pastor of the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Delaware-- a friend of President Biden for 30 years.

SYLVESTER BEAMAN: As a nation and people of faith gathered in this historical moment, let us unite in prayer. God, we gather under the beauty of your holiness and the holiness of your beauty. We seek your faith. Your smile, your warm embrace.

We petition you once more in this celebration. We pray for divine favor upon our president, Joseph R Biden, and our first lady, Dr. Jill Biden, and their family. We further ask that you would extend the same favor upon our vice president, Kamala D Harris, and our second gentleman, Doug Emhoff, and their family. More than ever-- more than ever-- they and our nation need you.

We need you, for in you, we discover our common humanity. And our common humanity-- we will seek out the wounded and bind their wounds. We will seek healing for those who are sick and disease. We will mourn our dead. We will befriend the lonely, the least, and the left-out. We will share our abundance with those who are hungry. We will do justly to the oppressed, acknowledge sin, and seek forgiveness-- thus grasping reconciliation.

In discovering our humanity, we will seek the good in and for all our neighbors. We will love the unlovable. Remove the stigma of the so-called untouchables. We will care for our most vulnerable-- our children, the elderly, emotionally challenged, and the poor. We will seek rehabilitation beyond correction. We'll extend opportunity to those locked out of opportunity. We will make friends of our enemies. We will make friends of our enemies.

People-- your people-- shall no longer raise up weapons against one another. We will rather use our resources for the national good and become a beacon of life and goodwill to the world. And neither shall we learn hatred anymore. We will lie down in peace and not make our neighbors afraid.

In you, oh, God, we discover our humanity. In our humanity, we discover our commonness-- beyond the difference of color, creed, origin, political party, ideology, geography, and personal preferences. We will become greater stewards of your environment-- preserving the land, reaping from it a sustainable harvest, and securing its wonder and miracle-giving power for generations to come.

This is our benediction-- that from these hallowed ground, where slaves labored to build this shrine and citadel to liberty and democracy. Let us all acknowledge, from the Indigenous Native American to those who recently received their citizenship. From the African-American to those whose foreparents came from Europe and every corner of the globe. From the wealthy to those struggling to make it. From every human being, regardless of their choices, that this is our country!

As such, teach us, oh, God-- as such, teach us, oh, God-- to live in it, love in it, be healed in it, and reconcile to one another in it! Lest we miss kingdom's [INAUDIBLE]. To your glory, majesty, dominion in power-- forever, hallelujah! Glory, hallelujah! In the strong name of our collective faith, amen.

[APPLAUSE]

- Please remain standing as the Armed Forces Color Guard retires our national colors.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Ladies and gentlemen, please be seated, and remain in your seats while the president and official party depart the platform. For safety reasons, your ushers will release your section in an organized manner following the playing of our national march, "The Stars and Stripes Forever."

[MUSIC - "THE STARS AND STRIPES FOREVER"]