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Joe Biden Inauguration Day: Here is the schedule of events

Savannah Behrmann and Michael Collins, USA TODAY
·8 min read
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WASHINGTON – Landing in the midst of a deadly pandemic, and now facing security concerns due to an insurrection attempt at the U.S. Capitol last week by a pro-Trump crowd, President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration will lack the crowds, and much of the fanfare, that those in years past had.

In light of those two issues, the Presidential Inaugural Committee has rethought how this year's event will look. Much of it will be virtual.

The committee is also stressing each event "will be socially distanced" and the inaugural committee "will have vigorous health and safety protocols in place."

The inaugural committee has not released specific times for all parts of the event.

Here is the schedule of events for Biden's inauguration on Wednesday, and the events of the days leading up to it, as we currently know it:

Wednesday: Inauguration Day

The departing president and the president-elect typically ride down Pennsylvania Avenue together after the incumbent greets the incoming president at the White House. However, that is will likely not happen this year as Trump has said he is not attending the ceremony.

Instead, Trump will leave the White House for Florida shortly before Biden's inauguration. Trump will hold a farewell ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, the usual jumping-off point for Air Force One, in Maryland just outside Washington before his departure from the capital city, sources said.

More: Trump to hold departure ceremony at Joint Base Andrews on morning of Biden inauguration

8:45 a.m.: Biden, Harris and their spouses will attend mass at Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. They will be joined by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

10:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: Our White House: An Inaugural Celebration for Young Americans

The inaugural committee will "host a first-ever curated livestream for young Americans before and during the Inaugural Ceremonies."

The livestream will be hosted by entertainer and advocate Keke Palmer, feature appearances from Dr. Jill Biden, include segments about presidential pets, excerpts of student voices from PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs “We the Young People” programming, and more.

10:30 a.m.: Biden, Harris and their spouses will arrive at U.S. Capitol for the inauguration.

11:15 a.m., inauguration ceremony begins: At the swearing-in, the Rev. Leo O’Donovan, a former Georgetown University president, will give the invocation. The Pledge of Allegiance will be led by Andrea Hall, a firefighter from Georgia.

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Lady Gaga, who campaigned with and performed for Biden during the election, will perform the National Anthem.

There will be a poetry reading from Amanda Gorman, the first national youth poet laureate, and the benediction will be given by Rev. Silvester Beaman of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Delaware.

There will be additional musical performances.

Harris will be sworn in first by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a history-making event in which the first Black, South Asian and female vice president will take her oath of office from the first Latina justice, shortly before noon.

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Harris chose Sotomayor for the task, according to the Associated Press. She’ll also use two Bibles for the swearing-in, one of which belonged to Thurgood Marshall, the first Black Supreme Court justice.

Noon, Biden sworn in as president: Biden will be sworn in on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol building becoming the 46th president of the United States, around noon.

Following tradition Chief Justice John Roberts will lead Biden in the oath of office. He will take the oath using his 127-year-old, 5-inch-thick family Bible.

After Harris and Biden take their oaths of office, Biden will deliver an inaugural address to layout "his vision to defeat the pandemic, build back better, and unify and heal the nation," according to the inaugural team.

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It is anticipated there will be roughly 1,000 guests in attendance. Most will be members of Congress and their guests.

1:40 p.m.: After the official swearing-in ceremony, Biden, the incoming First Lady, Harris, and the incoming Second Gentleman will participate in a Pass in Review on the East Front of the Capitol with members of the military.

"Pass in Reviews are a long-standing military tradition that reflects the peaceful transfer of power to a new Commander-in-Chief," the inaugural committee stated of the event.

2:25 p.m., Arlington National Cemetery, Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier: Biden and Harris, and their spouses, will then visit Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, as well as former first ladies Michelle Obama, Laura Bush and Hillary Rodham Clinton, will also attend the ceremony at Arlington.

More: Obama, Bush and Clinton to join Biden for wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington Cemetery after inauguration

3:15 p.m.: Biden will then receive a presidential escort from 15th Street to the White House.

The escort will include representatives of every branch of the military, including the U.S. Army Band, a Joint Service Honor Guard, and the Commander-in-Chief’s Guard and Fife and Drum Corps from the 3rd U.S. Infantry “The Old Guard.”

"Participants will be socially distanced and PIC will have vigorous health and safety protocols in place," according to Matt Hill, a spokesman for the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

Virtual Parade Across America: A “virtual parade” will then occur, which will be televised and feature performances in communities across the country.

The parade will celebrate America’s heroes, highlight Americans from all walks of life in different states and regions, and reflect the country’s diversity, heritage and resilience, inaugural planners said.

More: Joe Biden's virtual 'Parade Across America' to feature 'heroes' and Jon Stewart, Andra Day, Kenny Ortega

More: Joe Biden to get 'presidential escort' to White House, virtual parade instead of traditional inaugural festivities

The event will celebrate the nation's heroes and highlight the diversity, heritage and resilience of the country, the Presidential Inaugural Committee said Monday.

5:15 p.m.: Biden will sign executive orders and "other presidential actions" in the Oval Office.

8:30 PM, "Celebrating America" Primetime Special: The 90-minute live special will feature remarks from Biden and Harris, as well as tributes to COVID-19 first responders.

This event will replace the usual inaugural balls, which were scrapped this year due to COVID-19 concerns.

Vice President Joe Biden and second lady Jill Biden dance at the Inaugural Ball,  Jan. 21, 2013, at the Washington Convention Center. She wore a silky blue Vera Wang gown with a draped front and back and a black belt at the waist.
Vice President Joe Biden and second lady Jill Biden dance at the Inaugural Ball, Jan. 21, 2013, at the Washington Convention Center. She wore a silky blue Vera Wang gown with a draped front and back and a black belt at the waist.

Actor Tom Hanks, who became the first major celebrity to announce he contracted the novel coronavirus last March, will host the special.

The already-announced performers include Rock icon Jon Bon Jovi, Musician/actor Justin Timberlake, Pop singer Demi Lovato and Singer-songwriter Ant Clemons, among others.

The inaugural committee named some additional artists who will perform in the television special, which include the Foo Fighters, John Legend, and Bruce Springsteen.

"Celebrating America" special will air live at 8:30 p.m. EST/PST on ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC and MSNBC. Additionally, it will be streamed live on the PIC's social media channels: YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Twitch; and will be available on Amazon Prime Video, Microsoft Bing, NewsNOW from Fox, and AT&T DirecTV and U-verse.

The day is expected to end just before 10 p.m., when Biden and his wife will make an appearance on the Blue Room Balcony at the White House.

Tuesday

Send-off event in Delaware

Biden spoke at a send-off event in Wilmington, Delaware" on Tuesday and delivered emotional remarks.

“This is kind of emotional for me,” said Biden, choking up at the “send-off” event before taking a short flight to the nation’s capital. "You've been with me my whole career, through the good times and the bad. I want to thank you for everything.”

5:30 p.m., Nationwide COVID-19 Memorial: The inaugural committee is hosting a lighting ceremony commemorating the American lives lost to COVID-19.

The vigil will be held the day before the inauguration, with the inaugural team calling it the “first-ever lighting around the Reflecting Pool to memorialize American lives lost.”

"The inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris represents the beginning of a new national journey," Pili Tobar, the communications director for the Presidential Inaugural Committee, said in a statement.

Harris and Biden will both speak at the vigil.

More: Biden inaugural events to include memorial ceremony for COVID-19 victims on Jan. 19

The ceremony will also include building lightings and church bells ringing across Washington, D.C., and the committee has called on Americans across the country to join in as part of “a national moment of unity and remembrance.”

“In the midst of a pandemic — when so many Americans are grieving the loss of family, friends, and neighbors — it is important that we honor those who have died, reflect on what has been one of the more challenging periods in the nation’s history, and renew our commitment to coming together to end the pandemic and rebuild our nation,” Tobar said.

The virus has killed around 400,000 people nationwide.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Inauguration Day schedule: Joe Biden, Kamala Harris sworn in