America’s new president Joe Biden will lay a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery shortly after he takes the oath of office with former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama joining him in a show of unity.
Biden told reporters in Wilmington today that he’s not worried about having an outdoor swearing-in ceremony on January 20th in the wake of last week’s riot on Capitol Hill, where a pro-Trump mob swarmed the stands built for his inauguration.
‘I’m not afraid of taking the oath outside,’ Biden said.
After the swearing in and a military pass and review at the Capitol, Biden will head to Arlington Cemetery with most of his predecessors in the Oval Office.
Jill Biden will also be there as will Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, Michelle Obama, incoming Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff – part of Biden’s inauguration theme of ‘America United.’
It will be one of Biden’s first acts as president in a display of bipartisanship.
But it will also show the increased isolation of outgoing Donald Trump, who said last week he would not attend his successor’s swearing-in – a decision Biden said he agreed with.
‘To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th,’ he declared.
He is expected to leave Washington D.C. a day earlier.
Trump’s decision to be a no-show at the inauguration ceremony is a break with historical tradition, but Biden said he was glad Trump wasn’t attending.
‘One of the few things he and I have ever agreed on. It’s a good thing him not showing up,’ he said.
He noted Vice President Mike Pence, who is expected to attend, is welcome.
The last president not to attend his successor’s swearing-in was President Andrew Johnson in 1869 – who had also been impeached.
Both John Adams and John Quincy Adams snubbed their successors too.
Shortly after Trump announced the snub, Barack and Michelle Obama and Bill and Hillary Clinton announced they would attend.
George W Bush and wife Laura had already confirmed they would attend.
Jimmy Carter, 96, and wife Roslynn, 93, will not attend, the first inaugural they have missed since 1977, while they attempt to keep safe from COVID.
Biden’s inauguration committee today announced the new details of the upcoming ceremony and the events that will surround the transfer of power.
The team is highlighting ways to include people even as they plan for a scaled-back event.
They have asked supporters to stay home and celebrate there because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The day will also include a ‘field of flags’ on the National Mall that will consist of approximately 191,500 U.S. flags of varying sizes, including flags representing every state and territory, and 56 pillars of light.
The display will represent the people unable to travel to Washington D.C. for the inauguration because of the coronavirus pandemic
. Individuals can sponsor a flag through the inauguration committee.
But the fallout from Wednesday’s attack is already being felt as the city ramps up its security presence ahead of the January 20th swearing in.
The National Park Service said it would suspend tours of the Washington Monument, a major tourist site, through Jan. 24 due to safety concerns from threats to disrupt the inauguration.
Meanwhile, Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser today asked for additional security with nine days to go until Biden becomes the 46th president.
Bowser also asked the Interior secretary to ‘cancel any and all public gathering permits in the District of Columbia, and deny any applications for a public gathering during the period January 11 – January 24’ in order to avoid another situation like Wednesday when an unruly mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol.
She also asked all Americans to stay away from the event.
She had already extended the city’s 6 p.m. curfew through Inauguration Day.
Her words come as Capitol Hill goes on lock down with seven-foot tall anti-climbing fencing circling the area where Biden will take the oath of office.
Additional National Guard units also have arrived in the Capitol after extra security was brought in following Wednesday’s MAGA riot that left five people dead.
More than 6,000 members of the National Guard have already been deployed and as many as 13,000 guardsmen could be on hand for the January 20th ceremony.
There is also an inside location on standby in case it’s needed.
But organizers are vowing the swearing-in will take place on the West Front of the Capitol, where stands have been built and seating is being arranged.