Biden Establishment Commission / AP
Without masks, President Biden addressed the nation on Wednesday night, standing at the feet of the Abraham Lincoln Memorial during a televised and stellar celebration of the historic opening.
“We are good people,” he reassured the audience before addressing the topic of his earlier speech on the steps of the Capitol.
“Unity forces us to come together in a common love that defines us as Americans,” Biden said.
The 46th president called on the public to gather, saying he was “the only one way we will pass through the darkness around us. “
He noted that the obstacles facing the nation, including the pandemic that is currently devastating communities across the country, racial injustices, the climate crisis are “Threats to our own democracy.”
“Will we meet the moment like our predecessors?” Biden asked.
“I believe we should and I believe we will,” he said. “You Americans are the reason I’ve never been more optimistic about America than I am that day.”
He added: “America is built on decency and dignity of love and healing of greatness and goodness. Of opportunity.”
The inaugural program, called Celebrating America, included several honors for the outstanding efforts of nurses, doctors, teachers, and other front-line workers that intensified throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
In his first remarks to the nation as vice president, Harris reiterated the president’s call to unite in the coming days.
“In many ways, this moment embodies our character as a nation,” she said in a brief address to the audience.
“Even in the dark, we not only dream, we do. We shoot for the moon and then put our flag on it,” Harris said. “We are brave, we are fearless and ambitious. We are steadfast in our faith that we will overcome, that we will rise.”
She added: “The big experiment requires a lot of determination. The will to get the job done and then the wisdom to keep improving, to keep doing, to improve.”
Although much of the program struck a few grim notes, the two-hour show was littered with several performances by various singers, musicians, artists and actors. Among them, John Legend sings to Nina Simone I feel good.
Justin Timberlake and Ant Clemens performed Better days.
Puerto Rican singers Ozuna and Luis Fonsi sang their respective mega-hits, Such and Slowly, in Spanish. And Katy Perry Fireworks, served as the soundtrack to a stunning fireworks display over the White House and National Mall that ended the celebration.