President Joe Biden pledged healing and urged unity as he took the oath of office amid a pandemic, economic turmoil and civil unrest.
“The will of the people has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded,” Biden said.
Sworn in minutes earlier was Vice President Kamala Harris, the first woman in one of the nation’s top two offices. She’s also the first Black vice president and first of Indian descent.
Biden, 78, is the nation’s oldest president. He was Barack Obama’s vice president from 2009-17 and served for three decades in the Senate.
“We’ll press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do,” Biden said. He takes office during a pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than 400,000 Americans — “as many lives in one year as America lost in all of World War II,” he said.
Biden called for “unity.”
“I ask every American to join me in this cause — uniting to fight the foes we face,” he said.
Biden promised the nation “will get through this together,” though warned the darkest days of the COVID-19 crisis may loom.
Two weeks earlier, on the inaugural stage, protesters tried to disrupt the joint session of Congress that confirmed Biden’s victory over incumbent Donald Trump. An attack on the Capitol halted the session, but Biden noted it wasn’t successful
“It did not happen, it will never happen — not today, not tomorrow, not ever, not ever,” he said.
Still, he urged cooperation.
“I promise I will fight as hard for those who did not support me as those who did,” he said.
Biden received the most votes of any presidential candidate, but Trump received the second-most.
Biden carried Georgia narrowly, by fewer than 12,000 out of nearly 5 million cast. Trump was the choice of 3 in 4 Walton County voters.
Trump left Washington earlier on Wednesday morning and did not attend Biden’s inauguration. Former President Jimmy Carter, 96, of Georgia, also did not attend due to concerns about COVID-19.
The other living former presidents, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama, were on hand to witness the transfer of power, as was Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence.