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CNN Live Event/Special
Joseph R. Biden Inaugurated as 46th President. Aired 11:30-12p ET
Aired January 20, 2021 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
REV. LEO JEREMIAH O'DONOVAN III, FORMER GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT: Gracious and merciful God, at this sacred time we come before you in need, indeed on our knees. But we come still more with hope and with our eyes raised anew to the vision of a more perfect union in our land, a union of all our citizens to promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.
We are a people of many races, creeds and colors, national backgrounds, cultures and styles, now far more numerous and on land much vaster than when Archbishop John Carroll wrote his prayer for the inauguration of George Washington 232 years ago. Archbishop Carroll prayed that you, o creator of all, would assist with your holy spirit of counsel and fortitude of these president of the United States, that his administration may be conducted in righteousness and be eminently useful to your people.
Today, we confess our past failures to live according to our vision of equality, inclusion and freedom for all. Yet we resolutely commit still more now to renewing the vision, to caring for one another in word and deed, especially the least fortunate among us and so becoming a light for the world.
There is a power in each and every one of us that lives by turning to every other one of us, a trust of the spirit to cherish and care and stand by others and, above all, those most in need. It is called love. And its path is to give evermore of itself.
Today, it is called American patriotism, born not of power and privilege but of care for the common good, with malice toward none and with charity for all.
For our new president, we beg of you the wisdom Solomon sought when he knelt before you and prayed for an understanding heart so that I can govern your people and know the difference between right and wrong.
We trust in the counsel of the Letter of James. If any of you likes wisdom, you should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
Pope Francis has reminded us how important it is to dream together. By ourselves, he wrote, we risk seeing mirages, things that are not there. Dreams, on the other hand, are built together.
Be with us, holy mystery of love, as we dream together. Help us under our new president to reconcile the people of our land, restore our dream and invest it with peace and justice and the joy that is the overflow of love.
To the glory of your name, forever, amen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, please remain standing for the presentation of our national colors by the Armed Forces Color Guard, the singing of our national anthem and for the pledge of allegiance.
Ladies and gentlemen, here for the singing of our national anthem, accompanied by the president's own United States marine band, please welcome Lady Gaga.
LADY GAGA, AMERICAN ARTIST: O say, can you see by the dawn's early light what so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous skies for the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome from the city of South Fulton, Georgia, Fire and Rescue Department, president of the International Association of Firefighters Local 3920, Fire Captain Andrea M. Hall, for the reciting of the pledge of allegiance.
CAPT. ANDREA HALL, SOUTH FULTON GEORGIA FIRE AND RESCUE DEPARTMENT: I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands one nation under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): What you are all about to be part of, America, is a historic moment of firsts. To administer the oath to our first African-American, our first Asian-American and our first woman vice president, Kamala Harris, it is my great privilege to welcome to the inaugural stage the first Latina to ever serve on the Supreme Court of the United States of America, Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, please remain standing for the oath of office followed by musical honors.
JUSTICE SONIA SOTOMAYOR, U.S. SUPREME COURT: Please raise your right hand and repeat after me.
I, Kamala Devi Harris, do solemnly swear --
KAMALA HARRIS, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT: I, Kamala Devi Harris, do solemnly swear --
SOTOMAYOR: -- that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States --
HARRIS: -- that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States --
SOTOMAYOR: -- against all enemies foreign and domestic --
HARRIS: -- against all enemies foreign and domestic --
SOTOMAYOR: -- that I will bare true faith and allegiance to the same --
HARRIS: -- that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same --
SOTOMAYOR: -- that I take this obligation freely --
HARRIS: -- that I take this obligation freely --
SOTOMAYOR: -- without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion --
HARRIS: -- without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion --
SOTOMAYOR: -- that I will well and faithfully discharge --
HARRIS: -- that I will well and faithfully discharge --
SOTOMAYOR: -- the duties of the office on which I am about to enter.
HARRIS: -- the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter.
SOTOMAYOR: -- so help me God.
HARRIS: -- so help me God.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, please be seated.
Please welcome Jennifer Lopez to perform this Land is Your Land and America, the Beautiful, accompanied by members of the president's own United States Marine Band.
JENNIFER LOPEZ, AMERICAN ARTIST: This land is your land. This land is my land from California to the New York Island, from the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters, this land was made for you and me.
As I went walking down that ribbon of highway, I saw above me that endless skyway.
I saw below me that golden valley. This land was made for you and me.
This land o this land, this land was made for you and me. O this land o this land, this land was made for you and me, you and me.
America, America, God shed his grace on thee and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.
Let's get loud, this land was made for you and me.
KLOBUCHAR: Well, that was great. The sun is shining, and, Mr. President-elect, this is the first inauguration in the history of America where J. Lo was the warm act for Chief Justice Roberts.
With that, it is now my distinct honor to introduce the chief justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, John Roberts, to administer the presidential oath to the next president of the United States, Joseph R. Biden.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, please stand for the oath of office followed by musical honors.
CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS, U.S. SUPREME COURT: Please raise your right hand and repeat after me.
I, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr., do solemnly swear --
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT-ELECT: I, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr., do solemnly swear --
ROBERTS: -- that I will faithfully execute --
BIDEN: -- that I will faithfully execute --
ROBERTS: -- the office of president of the United States --
BIDEN: -- the office of president of the United States --
ROBERTS: -- and will to the best of my ability --
BIDEN: -- and will to the best of my ability --
ROBERTS: -- preserve protect and defend --
BIDEN: -- preserve, protect and defend --
ROBERTS: -- the Constitution of the United States.
BIDEN: -- the Constitution of the United States.
ROBERTS: So help you God.
BIDEN: So help me God.
ROBERTS: Congratulations, Mr. President.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, please be seated. KLOBUCHAR: My fellow Americans, a moment we have all been waiting for, it is now my great privilege and high honor to be the first person to officially introduce the 46th president of the United States, Joseph R. Biden Jr.
ROBERTS: Chief Justice Roberts, Vice President Harris, Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, Leader McConnell, Vice President Pence, my distinguished guests, my fellow Americans, this is America's day. This is democracy's day, a day of history and hope, of renewal and resolve. Through a crucible for the ages, America has been tested anew, and America has risen to the challenge.
Today, we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate but of a cause, the cause of democracy. The people, the will of the people, has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded. We've learned again that democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile. And at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.
For now, on this hallowed ground, where just a few days ago, violence sought to shake the Capitol's very foundation, we come together as one nation under God, indivisible, to carry out the peaceful transfer of power as we have for more than two centuries. As we look ahead in our uniquely American way, restless, bold, optimistic and set our sights on the nation we know we can be and we must be.
I thank my predecessors of both parties for their presence here today. I thank them from the bottom of my heart. And I know -- and I know the resilience of our Constitution and the strength, the strength of our nation, as does President Carter, who I spoke with last night but cannot be with us today, but whom we salute for his lifetime in service.
I've just taken the sacred oath each of those patriots have taken, the oath first sworn by George Washington. But the American story depends not on any one of us, not on some of us, but on all of us, on we, the people, who seek a more perfect union.
This is a great nation. We are good people. And over the centuries, through storm and strife, in peace and in war, we've come so far, but we still have far to go.
We'll press forward with speed and urgency, for we have much to do in this winter of peril and significant possibilities, much to repair, much to restore, much to heal, much to build and much to gain.
Few people in our nation's history have been more challenged or found a time more challenging or difficult than the time we're in now. Once in a century virus, it silently stalks the country. It's taken as many lives in one year as America lost in all of World War II. Millions of jobs have been lost. Hundreds of thousands of businesses closed. A cry for racial justice some 400 years in the making moves us. The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer.
A cry for survival comes from planet itself. A cry that can't be any more desperate or any more clear, and now arise political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism that we must confront and we will defeat.
To overcome these challenges, to restore the soul and secure the future of America requires so much more than words and requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy, unity, unity.
In another January on New Year's Day in 1863, Abraham Lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation. When he put pen to paper, the president said, and I quote, if my name ever goes down in history, it will be for this act, and my whole soul is in it. My whole soul is in it.
Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this, bringing America together, uniting our people, uniting our nation. And I ask every American to join me in this cause.
Uniting to fight the foes we face, anger, resentment and hatred, extremism, lawlessness, violence, disease, joblessness and hopelessness. With unity, we can do great things, important things. We can right wrongs. We can put people to work in good jobs. We can teach our children in safe schools. We can overcome the deadly virus. We can reward work and rebuild the middle class and make health care secure for all. We can deliver racial justice and we can make America once again the leading force for good in the world.
I know speaking of unity can sound to some like a foolish fantasy these days. I know the forces that divide us are deep and they are real. But I also know they are not new. Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we are all created equal, and the harsh ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear, demonization have long torn us apart.
The battle is perennial, and victory is never assured. Through civil war, the great depression, World War, 9/11, through struggle, sacrifices, setbacks, our better angels have always prevailed. In each of these moments, enough of us -- enough of us -- have come together to carry all of us forward, and we can do that now.
History, faith and reason show the way, the way of unity. We can see each other, not as adversaries, but as neighbors. We can treat each other with dignity and respect. We can join forces, stop the shouting and lower the temperature. For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury, no progress, only exhausting outrage, no nation, only a state of chaos.