Ever since Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2021 presidential election, the inauguration ceremony had been on my mind. Even before the January 6 attack on the Capital, it seemed clear that our tomorrows would be very different from our yesterdays. The ongoing Pandemic would dictate no parade down beautiful Pennsylvania Avenue, no large noisy crowds, and no elegant festive balls. Would the scaled back events without the usual fanfare make the occasion seem diminished? Can an inauguration taking place against the backdrop of seven-foot-tall fences and over 20,000-armed National Guard troops feel majestic and stately?
With these questions swirling in my head, I anxiously looked forward to watching the 2021 ceremony more than any in my lifetime. Add to that the fact that a woman was being sworn in as Vice President, and my anticipation was bubbling over. While I had blocked out much of my day for watching, my sister is a much earlier riser than I am and was in on the action before the sun was ever up. She shared her early morning thoughts of Inauguration Day 2021.
It was 4:00am, January 20, 2021. Robed and fuzzy slippered, hunkered down in my overstuffed chair, mug of hot coffee clutched close to my chest, I began to watch. Still dark in D.C., yet shadowy folks already bustling about getting ready for history. Slowly the sun arose behind the dome bathing it in gold. An unfamiliar feeling somewhere beneath my ribs startled me. I was puzzled as it quietly expanded bumping against my crusty old heart….it seemed to be joy, it seemed to be hope. I sensed this day was going to be extraordinary. An hour later former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was being interviewed. Apparently, she sensed that same emotional bubble and called it “…new hope…” As she spoke the phrase went straight to my heart. Today is new hope.
All my fretting was for naught. From the moment the four hundred lights were turned on surrounding the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting pool on the eve of the January 20, I knew all would be well. Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks all added to the proceedings. Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman took our collective breath away. There appeared to be a relaxed sense of fellowship among the politicians on stage – both Democrat and Republican. The sense of fellowship was as welcome as all the magnificent fashion on display! The beautiful, vibrant colors made me rethink my predominately gray wardrobe. It was one of the classiest swearing in ceremonies I have ever seen. Along with Senator Amy Klobuchar, I hope, “This is the day when our democracy picks itself up…”
No disrespect to President Biden, but the big moment for me was Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor swearing in Kamala Harris as Vice President. Making it even more special was knowing that my granddaughters hundreds of miles away were watching. The Biden Inauguration Team made a free coloring book for kids to help celebrate the occasion.
Olivia, Emily and Elizabeth sprawled on their living room floor coloring the pages, pausing when their mom directed them to the action on the screen. When firefighter Andrea Hall led the Pledge of Allegiance, they stood and recited it along with their nation. When Lady Gaga slayed us with her mixed meter version of the Star-Spangled Banner, three little voices sang along with her. Children accept/take for granted things that they grow up with. By the time my granddaughters are voting, hopefully we will no longer feel the need to specify “woman” vice president.
I understand that simply changing administrations is not going to solve our nation’s many problems. COVID-19, the economy, climate change, immigration and equality aren’t issues that are going to be resolved overnight. But Joe Biden didn’t become president overnight, it was a long and winding road. With hope and expectation of something tomorrow, we must look for the light.
C’est la vie.