Joe Biden and Kamala Harris being sworn into office. Screenshots courtesy of Biden Inaugural Committee.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021 was a historical day for America. The United States government inaugurated our 46th president, Joseph R. Biden, who garnered the most individual votes of any candidate in history, and left behind the voice of a leader who in four years spent more time dividing the nation than progressing it. Kamala Harris, the first woman, Black and Asian Vice President, was sworn in, with the first-ever Jewish second spouse by her side. It was a triumphant day for a country whose fate was so uncertain just months prior. Only two weeks after former-President Trump’s lies and provoking came to a violent and uncivil head at the Capitol Building riots, democracy finally won.

What a wonderful sight it was to behold Trump leaving the building for one final time. He may be the first President in 150 years to skip his successor’s inauguration, but he was not missed in the slightest. Despite increased security and a limited crowd of only about one thousand people due to COVID-19 restrictions, the inauguration ceremony was nothing short of monumental. That’s thanks to not only a large handful of incredible individual moments, but also the seemingly sudden realization that we have reached the end of a political era shrouded in hate, conspiracy, distrust, and outright injustice. An incredible weight of anxiety was lifted off many American’s shoulders in one grand sweep, and even though there is so much work to be done, the unifying emotion of the day (seconded by relief) was hope.

The ceremony was dominated by poignant speeches and powerful performances, all of which made the event not only wonderful to watch, but cathartic to enjoy. That said, here is a highlight reel of the best performances, quotes, and moments from the Inauguration.

Biden is sworn in

Watching Biden and Harris take the official oath (using a conspicuously large bible) was a gratifying and beautiful experience; the beginning of a new age.

Harris is sworn in

Harris’ beaming smile, while she took the oath and made American history, was a truly wonderful sight to behold.

Lady Gaga sings the National Anthem

Lady Gaga amazed the crowd with her simple yet incredible rendition of the National Anthem.

Jennifer Lopez performs

Singing “This Land is Your Land” and “America the Beautiful” (and also “Let’s Get Loud”), J.Lo also powerfully addressed the nation in Spanish.

Amanda Gorman recites a moving poem

23-year old Amanda Gorman won over the entire nation with her beautiful, poignant delivery of her original poem “The Hill We Climb.”

Garth Brooks performs

Garth Brooks gave an understated yet wonderful performance of the classic “Amazing Grace.”

The moving quotes from Biden’s speech

“Democracy prevails”

Joe Biden’s inaugural remarks used the word “democracy” 11 times, more than any other presidential inaugural speech. In 2021 it’s a word worth repeating.

“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.”

Joe Biden addresses our problems head-on

It was extremely refreshing to see a public figure so directly confront our nations problems after so much waffling and vague (and racist) rhetoric from the orange one.

“We face an attack on our democracy and on truth, a raging virus, growing inequity, the sting of systemic racism, a climate in crisis, America’s role in the world. Any one of these would be enough to challenge us in profound ways, but the fact is we face them all at once, presenting this nation with — one of the gravest responsibilities we had.”

Biden vows to reverse Trump’s damage on the world’s view of America

Biden not only addressed the issues of our future, but the harm Trump has done, promising to reverse as much harm as he could.

“America has been tested, and we’ve come out stronger for it. We will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again.”

Wednesday also included “Celebrating America,” a 90-minute special hosted by Tom Hanks, during which Biden called for unity in our country once again, stating: “We have learned again that democracy is precious and because of you democracy has prevailed.”

Bruce Springsteen kicks off the special

The Boss opened up the “Celebrating America” special with a beautiful performance of “Land of Hope and Dreams.”

John Legend performs

John Legend serenaded the country with a sultry rendition of Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good.”

The Black Pumas bring the soul

The Austin band performed their bluesy Record of the Year-nominated single “Colors.”

Lin Manuel Miranda recites Seamus Heaney

The Hamilton star joined the proceedings by video to recite Seamus Heaney’s “The Cure at Troy,” one of Biden’s favorite poems.

Demi Lovato performs

Demi Lovato gave an uplifting rendition of the Bill Withers classic “Lovely Day,” with the visual help of dozens of everyday Americans.

A show stopping Broadway medley

A plethora of Broadway stars like Audra McDonald, Anthony Rapp, Wayne Brady, Vanessa Williams, Peppermint and more joined forces to give a wonderful mashup of “Seasons of Love” and “Let the Sun Shine.”

Ant Clemons & Justin Timberlake perform together

The pair crooned their new collaborative song, “Better Days,” together.

Katy Perry closes the show

Perry closed out Inauguration Day with her signature tune “Firework,” backed by a seemingly unlimited supply of fireworks shooting across the sky.

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