Inaugural Memory

The inauguration of Joseph R. Biden Jr. as the 46th President of the United States on January 20, 2021, was marked by memorable images, words and sounds.

These scenes took place in the shadow of the immediate memory of the attack on the US Capitol, which occurred on the same steps, through the same doorway, just two weeks earlier.

Here are three timeless moments that speak to the true character of America, preserved here with respect for our future.

The National Anthem: sung by rock star Lady Gaga

A medley of “This Land is Your Land” and “God Bless America” — sung by actress and performer Jennifer Lopez:

A poem, written by 22-year-old Los Angeles poet Amanda Gorman, for the Inauguration of President Joe Biden.


“The Hill We Climb”


When day comes we ask ourselves,

where can we find light in this never-ending shade?


The loss we carry, a sea we must wade.

We’ve braved the belly of the beast,

we’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace

and the norms and notions of what just is,

isn’t always justice.


And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it,

somehow we do it, somehow we’ve weathered

and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken

but simply unfinished.


We, the successors of a country and a time

where a skinny black girl descended from slaves

and raised by a single mother can dream

of becoming president only to find herself

reciting for one.


And, yes, we are far from polished,

far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean

we are striving to form a union that is perfect,

we are striving to forge a union with purpose,

to compose a country committed to all cultures,

colors, characters and conditions of man.

So we lift our gazes not to what stands between us,

but what stands before us.


We close the divide because we know to put our future first,

we must first put our differences aside.

We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms

to one another, we seek harm to none and harmony for all.


Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:

that even as we grieved, we grew, even as we hurt,

we hoped, that even as we tired, we tried,

that we’ll forever be tied together victorious,

not because we will never again know defeat

but because we will never again sow division.


Scripture tells us to envision that everyone

shall sit under their own vine and fig tree

and no one should make them afraid.


If we’re to live up to our own time,

then victory won’t lie in the blade,

but in in all of the bridges we’ve made.

That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb

if only we dare it because being American

is more than a pride we inherit,

it’s the past we step into and how we repair it.


We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation

rather than share it. That would destroy our country

if it meant delaying democracy, and this effort

very nearly succeeded. But while democracy

can periodically be delayed,

it can never be permanently defeated.


In this truth, in this faith, we trust,

for while we have our eyes on the future,

history has its eyes on us, this is the era

of just redemption we feared in its inception.


We did not feel prepared to be the heirs

of such a terrifying hour but within it we found

the power to author a new chapter,

to offer hope and laughter to ourselves,

so while once we asked

how can we possibly prevail over catastrophe,

now we assert how could catastrophe

possibly prevail over us.


We will not march back to what was

but move to what shall be,

a country that is bruised but whole,

benevolent but bold, fierce and free,

We will not be turned around or interrupted

by intimidation because we know our inaction

and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation,

our blunders become their burden.


But one thing is certain: if we merge mercy with might

and might with right, then love becomes our legacy

and change our children’s birthright.


So let us leave behind a country

better than the one we were left,

with every breath from my bronze, pounded chest,

we will raise this wounded world

into a wondrous one,

we will rise from the golden hills of the West,

we will rise from the windswept Northeast

where our forefathers first realized revolution,

we will rise from the lake-rimmed cities

of the Midwestern states,

we will rise from the sunbaked South,

we will rebuild, reconcile, and recover

in every known nook of our nation

in every corner called our country

our people diverse and beautiful will emerge

battered and beautiful, when the day comes

we step out of the shade aflame and unafraid.


The new dawn blooms as we free it,

for there is always light

if only we’re brave enough

to see it,

if only we’re brave enough

to be it.