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Biden, Harris take office in historic inauguration

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"I, Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. do solemnly swear…"

It was an inauguration unlike any other in U.S. history.

Democrat Joe Biden on Wednesday was sworn in as the country's 46th president in a ceremony set against the backdrop of a devastating pandemic, unprecedented security and a deeply divided nation.

"This is America’s day. This is democracy's day."

Standing on the steps of the U.S. Capitol exactly two weeks after a mob of Donald Trump's supporters stormed the building in a deadly siege, Biden called for an end to the country"s "uncivil war" amid warnings of possible renewed violence.

"This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge. And unity is the path forward."

It was a celebration of democracy and diversity as former Senator Kamala Harris made history as the first woman, first Black American and first Asian-American to become vice president.

Attending dignitaries - including former U.S. Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton - wore masks and sat several feet apart.

Notably absent was Trump, who flouted one last convention by refusing to meet with Biden or attend his inauguration, breaking with a political tradition seen as affirming the peaceful transfer of power.

"So just... a goodbye. We love you. We will be back in some form."

Top Republicans, including Vice President Mike Pence and the party’s congressional leaders, skipped Trump's sendoff earlier in the day and attended Biden's inauguration instead.

Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks performed for the occasion, and, at 22, Amanda Gorman made history as the youngest inaugural poet.

Some right-wing extremist groups had vowed to disrupt Biden’s inauguration in the wake of the January 6th attack, but only scattered protests emerged on Wednesday.

The National Mall, typically packed with throngs of supporters, instead was filled with nearly 200,000 U.S. flags.

Later in the day, Biden attended a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, accompanied by Obama, Bush and Clinton.

Afterward, Biden’s motorcade joined an abbreviated parade as he made his way to the White House.

There were no inaugural balls or other parties this year due to the pandemic, but Biden – known for his folksy ways – left his limousine along Pennsylvania Avenue despite security concerns and walked with his family to his new home, greeting friends and reporters along the way.

Video Transcript

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

- It was an inauguration unlike any other in US history. Democrat Joe Biden on Wednesday was sworn in as the country's 46th president in a ceremony set against the backdrop of a devastating pandemic, unprecedented security, and a deeply divided nation.

JOE BIDEN: This is America's day. This is democracy's day.

- Standing on the steps of the US Capitol exactly two weeks after a mob of Donald Trump supporters stormed the building in a deadly siege, Biden called for an end to the country's, quote, "uncivil war" amid warnings of possible renewed violence.

JOE BIDEN: This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge. And unity is the path forward.

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

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

- It was a celebration of democracy and diversity as former Senator Kamala Harris made history as the first woman, first Black American, and first Asian-American to become vice president. Attending dignitaries, including former US presidents Barack Obama, George W Bush, and Bill Clinton wore masks and sat several feet apart. Notably absent was Trump, who flouted one last convention by refusing to meet with Biden or attend his inauguration, breaking with the political tradition seen as affirming the peaceful transfer of power.

DONALD TRUMP: A goodbye. We love you. We will be back in some form.

- Top Republicans, including Vice President Mike Pence and the party's congressional leaders, skipped Trump's send-off earlier in the day and attended Biden's inauguration instead. Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, and Garth Brooks performed for the occasion.

AMANDA GORMAN: A nation that isn't broken, but simply unfinished.

- And at 22, Amanda Gorman made history as the youngest inaugural poet. Some right-wing extremist groups had vowed to disrupt Biden's inauguration in the wake of the January 6th attack, but only scattered protests emerged on Wednesday. The National Mall, typically packed with throngs of supporters, instead was filled with nearly 200,000 US flags.

Later in the day, Biden attended a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, accompanied by Obama, Bush, and Clinton. Afterward, Biden's motorcade joined an abbreviated parade as he made his way to the White House. There were no inaugural balls or other parties this year due to the pandemic, but Biden, known for his folksy ways, left his limousine along Pennsylvania Avenue despite security concerns, and walked with his family to his new home, greeting friends and reporters along the way.

JOE BIDEN: Feels great.

- It feels good?

JOE BIDEN: It feels good.