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President Biden closed out his inauguration with a spectacular firework display that he watched from the Truman Balcony with First Lady Jill and their extended family, having earlier urged Americans to ‘unify’ and ‘meet the moment’ in a rousing speech at the Lincoln Memorial.

Fireworks burst over the White House and National Mall on Wednesday night as the star-studded ‘Celebrating America’ event came to a stunning close.

The mostly all-virtual event offered a night of socially distanced music as a pandemic-era replacement for the traditional bevy of balls.

Speaking next to the Lincoln memorial at the beginning of the show, just hours after being sworn in as the 46th US President, Biden reiterated his calls for unity and offered optimistic assertions that the best is still yet to come for the United States.

‘It is humbling to stand here in this place in front of these sacred words. Humbling out of respect to President Lincoln and the office we now share and humbling because of you, the American people.

‘As I said earlier today, we have learned again that democracy is precious and because of you democracy has prevailed.’

Biden continued that he and First Lady Jill, in addition to Vice President Kamala Harris and Doug, ‘wanted to make sure out inauguration was not about us but about you, the American people.’

‘This is a great nation. We’re a good people and [to] overcome the challenges in front of us requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy — unity. It requires us to come together in common love that defines us as Americans,’ he said.

After listing difficulties faced by the nation including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, an economic crisis, racial injustice, climate change and internal threats to the country’s democracy, Biden rhetorically asked if Americans felt up to the challenge.

‘Will we meet the moment like our forebears have?’ he asked. ‘I believe we must and I believe we will. You, the American people are the reason why I have never been more optimistic about America that I am this very day.’

‘There isn’t anything we can’t do, if we do it together,’ he added. ‘So thank you for this honor, I will give my all to you.’

In her first address as the nation’s Vice President, meanwhile, Kamala Harris talked about the power of ‘American Aspiration’.

With the Washington Monument lit up behind her Wednesday night, Harris called on Americans to remember ‘we are undaunted in our belief that we shall overcome, that we will rise up.’

She also cast her ascension as the first female vice president as a demonstration of the nation’s character.

‘In many this moment embodies our character as a nation. It demonstrates who we are, even in dark times. We, not only dream, we do. We not only see what has been, we see what can be. We shoot for the moon, and then we plant our flag on it. We are bold, fearless and ambitious. We are undaunted, in our belief that we shall overcome, that we will rise up. This is American aspiration,’ she said.

Harris, the first ever Vice President of color, continued by paying tribute to the accomplishments of Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, who she credited for seeing ‘a better future and built it with land grant colleges, and the transcontinental railroad.’

She also lauded the achievements of Martin Luther King Jr. and his tireless efforts to fight for racial and economic justice.

‘A great experiment, takes great determination. The will to do the work and then the wisdom to keep refining, keep tinkering, keep perfecting. The same and determination is being realized in America today,’ she said. ‘

Harris also gave a nod to American scientists, parents and teachers who are persevering through the coronavirus pandemic and encouraged people to ‘see beyond crises.’

‘I see it in the scientists who are transforming the future, I see it in the parents who are nurturing generations to come and in the innovators, the educators, in everyone, everywhere who are nurses and educators, everyone everywhere who is building a better life for themselves, their families and their communities,’ Harris continued.

‘This too is American aspiration. this is what President Joe Biden has called upon us to summon now. The courage to see beyond crisis, to do what is hard, to do what is good, to unite, to believe in ourselves, believe in our country, believe in what we can do together.’

The star-studded Celebrating America was hosted by Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks, and co-hosted by fellow stars Eva Longoria and Kerry Washington.

To close out Inauguration Day, Biden and First Lady Jill huddled closely together on the Truman Balcony as a stunning firework display illuminated the skies above DC during a performance from Katy Perry. T

The Bidens’ children and grandchildren danced and clapped on a neighboring ledge.

Harris and First Gentleman Doug Emhoff, meanwhile, watched on nearby from the Lincoln Memorial.










During the event, in a show of bi-partisan unity, former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama came together to offer their shared best wishes for Biden, in addition to preaching the importance of a peaceful transition of power, and establishing unity across the nation.

‘We have got to not just listen to folks we agree with, but listen to folks we don’t,’ Obama said in conversation with his fellow ex-commander-in-chiefs. ‘One of my fondest memories of the inauguration, was the grace and generosity that President Bush showed me, and Laura Bush showed Michelle,’ he continued, making no mention of Trump.

‘It was a reminder, that we can have a fierce disagreements and yet recognize each other’s common humanity and that, as Americans, we have more in common than what separates us,’ he continued. ‘If in fact…we are looking for what binds us together, the American people are strong, there’re tough, they can get through hardship and there’s no problem they cannot solve, when we are working together.’

Clinton, meanwhile, said he was ‘glad’ Biden had triumphed in the 2020 election, and said ‘we’re ready to march with you’.

‘We are both trying to come back to normalcy, deal with totally abnormal challenges, and do what we do best, which is try to make a more perfect union. It’s an exciting time.’

Bush added: ‘I think the fact that the three of us are standing here talking about a peaceful transfer of power, speaks to the institutional integrity of our country.

‘America’s a generous country, people of great hearts. All three of us were lucky to be the president of this country,’ he continued. ‘Mr. President, I’m pulling for your success. Your success is our country’s success. God bless you.’

Earlier, rock legend Bruce Springsteen sang ‘Land of Hope and Dreams’ as he stood alone with his guitar in front of the Lincoln Memorial to open the show.

Springsteen said, ‘Good evening, America,’ to open the 90-minute special airing across several networks.

Performing the 1999 song of solace, Springsteen sang, ‘I will provide for you, and I’ll stand by your side. You’ll need a good companion, for this part of the ride.’






R&B singer John Legend delivered a funky, soulful live rendition of Nina Simone’s ‘Feeling Good,’ and Katy Perry closed out the evening with her smash-hit ‘Firework’ as a display of fireworks erupted behind her.

‘It was so special for me to celebrate with the nation in front of the memorial,’ tweeted Legend following his performance. ‘AND I loved honoring the late great Nina Simone, my constant source of musical inspiration.’

Other musical contributions throughout the show included performances from Foo Fighters, Justin Timerlake and Ant Clemons, Jon Bon Jovi, and Demi Lovato, who covered Bill Withers’ ‘Lovely Day’ along with a chorus of fans which included healthcare workers.

Biden danced with his youngest grandchild, Beau, in his arms as Lovato performed a cover of Bill Withers’ ‘Lovely Day’ with a chorus of fans, some of whom were hospital workers.

The baby is the son of Hunter Biden, 50, and his South African wife Melissa Cohen, 32.

He is named after Hunter’s brother, who died of brain cancer in 2015, aged 46.

Host Tom Hanks introduced the show with a somber message, saying: ‘In the last few weeks, in the last few years, we’ve witnessed deep divisions and a troubling rancor in our land. But tonight we ponder the United States of America.’

‘The practice of our democracy, the foundations of our republic, the integrity of our Constitution, the hope and dreams we all share for a more perfect union.

‘To some, a presidential inauguration is a tradition, an act that marks the commitment of a new four-year term. Yet, in truth, Inauguration Day is more than the swearing in of the next national leaders. This day is about witnessing the permanence of our American ideal.’

A special broadcast came from the International Space Station roughly 200 miles above earth, from NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and American crew members from Expedition 64.

‘We’re up here working with our international partners to find new scientific breakthroughs from improved vaccines to safer drinking water to help people all over the world,’ Rubins said. ‘Just as we’re celebrating two decades of global cooperation and space, it’s truly an honor for us to celebrate America today. As we unite for this historic inaugural tradition that spans more than two centuries.’

Brayden Harrington, a 13-year-old who bonded with Biden earlier this year over their shared experience with stuttering, also made an appearance.

‘In the long history of the world only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger, I do not shrink from that responsibility. I welcome it,’ Harrington said.

‘I do not believe that any of us will exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it. And the glow from that fire can truly light the world. And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what can you do for your country,’ Harrington concluded.


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