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Presidential inaugurations are steeped in tradition: a peaceful transfer of power, parades, balls and celebration.

“Our history has been that even when one candidate doesn’t win, we accept the results. We move on and we wish the new president well,” said Jim Bendat, a presidential inauguration historian.

But this year’s swearing-in of President-elect Joe Biden will be different.

A deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of defeated President Trump led to a swift and historic second impeachment by the House.

Under new heightened security measures, thousands of law enforcement and military officers will stand guard on the streets of Washington, D.C., as Inauguration Day approaches.

Officials are monitoring threats at state capitals, too.

On top of a national security crisis, the coronavirus pandemic that continues to kill Americans by the thousands daily has forced the usual pomp and circumstance to be scaled back and, much like everything else during the pandemic, to become mostly virtual.

The result is a cloud of division, grief and anxiety hanging over the ceremony to usher in Biden’s administration, which will be tasked with trying to bring the country together to lead it out of the dual health and economic crises.

The presidential inauguration is a high-security event that has been kicked into overdrive following the Jan. 6 attack.

Trump’s unsubstantiated allegations of fraud in the November presidential election and calls for supporters to descend on D.C. led to a violent mob storming the Capitol to disrupt the congressional process of counting Biden’s electoral votes.

It was a historic security breach that has raised numerous questions and allegations, leading to the resignations of the Capitol Police chief, as well as the Senate and House sergeants at arms.

Typically presidential inaugurations receive a “national special security event” designation, which gives the Secret Service control over coordinating security.

Those security measures will be enhanced even more following the riot.




8 a.m. – Joe Biden and family attend Mass with Republican and Democratic leaders at St. Matthew’s Cathedral.

10 a.m. – Biden arrives at the U.S. Capitol.

11:15 a.m. – The inauguration program begins.

Invocation – Father Leo J. O’Donovan

Pledge of Allegiance – Andrea Hall

National Anthem – Lady Gaga

Poetry Reading – Amanda Gorman

Musical Performance – Jennifer Lopez

Swearing In – Kamala Harris, Vice President

12 p.m. – Joe Biden is sworn in as 46th president.

2:30 to 3p.m. – Biden lays a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff, President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, President George W. Bush and Laura Bush and President Bill Clinton and Secretary Hillary Clinton.

3:15 to 3:30 p.m. – Joe and Jill Biden receive presidential military escort to the White House.

TBD – The virtual “Parade Across America” begins once the Bidens enter the White House and will feature communities around the country.



8:30 p.m. – Actor Tom Hanks hosts a 90-minute special featuring remarks by Biden and Harris and performances by Demi Lovato, Justin Timberlake, Ant Clemons, Jon Bon Jovi and others.



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