Biden calls on unity as nation faces challenges, deep divisions

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 January 2021 at 2:50 pm

‘I will fight as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did.’ – President Joe Biden

Joe Biden

Joe Biden took the oath as the country’s 46th president today and called on Americans to come together to face daunting challenges, including a pandemic that has killed 400,000 Americans, an economy crippled by Covid-19, a warming planet and an “Uncivil War” where people from opposing views can’t see to simply disagree but see the other side as the enemy.

Biden, the former vice president and senator from Delaware, said the country needs its collective efforts to overcome so many challenges, including racism.

He asked people who supported Donald Trump for president to give him a chance while he strives to be a president for everyone.

“I will fight as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did,” Biden said. “For all those who supported our campaign, I’m humbled by the faith you placed in us. To all those who did not support us, let me say this. Hear me out as we move forward. Take a measure of me and my heart. If you still disagree, so be it. That’s democracy. That’s America.”

Biden, at 78, is the oldest person to be sworn in as president. He vowed to defend the Constitution, democracy and America while pursing the “public good.”

The new president observed a moment of silence for the 400,000 Americans who have died due to Covid-19. The “once-in-a-century virus” has taken more American lives than the country lost in all of World War II, Biden said.

Covid-19 has also left millions of people out of work.

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

He pledged to “repair our alliances” in the world, end the isolationist “America First” approach under Trump.

Kamala Harris, the former U.S. senator from California, was sworn in as vice president, the first woman to serve in the role. She is also the first Black and first person from South Asia to serve in the position.

The inauguration outside the Capitol included Lady Gaga singing the national anthem, Jennifer Lopez performing “America the Beautiful” and Garth Brooks singing “Amazing Grace.”

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, issued this statement:

“Today’s inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris was a demonstration of the American people’s resolve and optimism. While our nation continues to face an unprecedented public health and economic crisis, the inauguration was a moment of hope, and the start of a journey to not only recover from the pandemic, but to rebuild and strengthen our nation.

“To see my friend Kamala Harris, a daughter of immigrants, be sworn in as our nation’s first woman vice president and first Black and South Asian vice president, was a truly historic and unforgettable moment. President Biden will be a president for all Americans and I’m ready to work with him to lay the foundation for a brighter future.”

Congressman Chris Jacobs issued this statement on the inauguration:

“It was an honor to represent the citizens of the 27th Congressional District at the 59th Presidential Inauguration to witness the peaceful transition of power that has, and always will be, a cornerstone of our democracy. I wish President Biden and Vice President Harris well as they lead our nation and I commit to working with their administration to advance the interests of Western New York.

“This is a time to move our nation forward and unite. It is not the time for partisan agenda items – but actionable solutions that directly address the serious needs of the American people. We must work together to safely reopen our economy and schools, confront the national security threats facing our nation, and set a course toward future prosperity for small businesses, farmers, and workers.”