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Biden Celebrates 'Triumph' Of Democracy In Inaugural Address

President Biden prepares to deliver his inaugural address Wednesday on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol.
Tasos Katopodis
Getty Images
President Biden prepares to deliver his inaugural address Wednesday on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol.

Updated at 1:20 p.m. ET

President Biden gave his first presidential address to Americans on Wednesday in a star-studded Inauguration Day event that went unattended by his predecessor.

In his remarks, Biden promised to help the nation heal, both from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as well as from political rifts that had deepened considerably during the term of former President Donald Trump.

"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," Biden said.

"To overcome these challenges, to restore the soul and secure the future of America requires so much more than words. It requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy: unity."

Biden did not directly address Trump, who earlier in the day left the White House for his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. Former Vice President Mike Pence attended the inaugural ceremony.

Biden comes into office inheriting a public health crisis that has already claimed more than 400,000 American lives and a nation grappling with a political and racial reckoning decades in the making.

His first day in office will reflect the urgency with which he hopes to address these issues. He plans to sign 17 executive orders on issues ranging from the COVID-19 crisis and the economy, to racial justice and climate change.

"With unity we can do great things, important things," Biden said.

"Without unity, there is no peace. Only bitterness and fury. No progress, only exhausting outrage. No nation, only a state of chaos. This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward."

The president's remarks follow the theme of his candidacy, which called on Americans to abandon hyper-partisanship in favor of unifying against the nation's woes.

"We'll press forward with speed and urgency for we have much to do in this winter of peril and significant possibilities. Much to repair, much to restore, much to heal, much to build and much to gain," he said.

"Now, on this hallowed ground where just a few days ago violence sought to shake the Capitol's very foundation, we come together as one nation, under God, indivisible to carry out the peaceful transfer of power, as we have for more than two centuries," Biden said, referring to the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

"I pledge this to you: I will be a president for all Americans, all Americans. And I promise you I will fight as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Alana Wise joined WAMU in September 2018 as the 2018-2020 Audion Reporting Fellow for Guns & America. Selected as one of 10 recipients nationwide of the Audion Reporting Fellowship, Alana works in the WAMU newsroom as part of a national reporting project and is spending two years focusing on the impact of guns in the Washington region.
Alana Wise
Alana Wise is a politics reporter on the Washington desk at NPR.