Joe Biden’s Inauguration Signals Hope for the Future

It’s the first time in four years that I’m hopeful for the future. And I’m so happy not to have to wake up every morning and turn on the news; wondering what’s going on in the world and what horrible thing might happen next.

— Danica Bourgault

On Wednesday January 20, Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States. This inauguration signaled new hope and relief for many in the Westridge community.  “I’m feeling really hopeful and positive about the inauguration,” said Sandy de Grijs, Upper School History teacher, pre-inauguration. Westridge also held a viewing party to stream the inauguration for the community.

Even though the riots at the Capitol shook up many, most didn’t let it drain their hope and looked forward to the inauguration with excitement. “My overall feeling is hopefulness,” said Danica Bourgault, Business Office Coordinator at Westridge, before the inauguration. “I’m nervous for what might happen, but I have faith in the national guard and the Capitol police and the people that are protecting Biden. I’m not going to say I’m not worried, but I have faith.”

Jennifer Irish, Middle School History and Human Development teacher concurred. “I’m kind of excited because it’s a big, historic event. But also, a little trepidatious.”

Many in the Westridge community were hopeful for the future and relieved that the era of Trump’s presidency finally came to a close. For most, the inauguration was the end of a dissatisfactory presidency leading to a new optimistic outlook.

Biden swearing in as 46th president. (WSB-TV Altlanta)

Chief United States District Judge for the Middle District of Pennsylvania John E. Jones III announced the Harrisburg Federal Court’s plans for operation for inauguration day: as of January 15, 25,000 members of the National Guard were authorized for the inauguration. Washington had been preparing for protests during the inauguration and stepped up the security. Due to the heavy security measures, most felt satisfied with the safety at the inauguration. “I sort of feel like the preparations for this are so solid considering the sort of fortress they’ve created in DC,” said deGrijs.

“I feel like this is going to be a very calm event,” said Irish. “I’m looking forward to a change, a good solid change.”

On the day before the inauguration, Ms. de Grijs also noted that it was important where the media focused their attention. “I’m hoping that the coverage will just be focused on the positive aspects of the inauguration, and if there are issues or problems, that they will just be ignored. People who do those types of things are just doing it to get attention, and I think the best thing would be for the networks to focus on the inauguration itself.” 

The inauguration went by without complications and allowed for a peaceful transition to the next president. Biden emphasized unity in his speech and promised to be a “president for all Americans.” He was sworn in with his hand on top of a 19th-century family Bible, which is the same he has used for every swearing-in. 

Biden’s speech emphasized the need for unity moving forward. “I especially enjoyed Joe Biden’s speech because it was about unity, which was not very prominent in the US in the past few years, especially with the attack on the Capitol two weeks ago. The speech was quite inspiring and full of hope—something we need during these tough times,” said Cyana L. ’24 after the inaugural ceremonies.

President Trump announced that he would not be attending Biden’s inauguration. “I never really expected Trump to attend because it would be something that isn’t all about him and centered on him,” Bourgault noted. “Plus, with the false narrative that he’s been pushing, saying that he never lost, it wouldn’t fit into his story.”

However, Vice President Mike Pence will attend the inauguration. “Although Pence has supported Trump for all these years, I think he’s doing the right thing now. You might argue that it’s too little, too late…but I think it’s good that he’s going,” said de Grijs.

Bourgault agreed. “I’m happy [Pence] is going because it’s some semblance of the normal order of things: the peaceful transition of power. So at least someone in the administration is going. Even though that won’t help Trump supporters believe that Trump lost. This is the way things are, and the way things should be.”

Kamala Harris sworn in by Sonia Sotomayor (Politico)

The feelings of relief were also accompanied by pride and accomplishment for this historic moment. Considering that Vice President Kamala Harris, now the first female, Black, and Indian American to ever hold executive office, was sworn in by Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latinx member of the supreme court. “I guess I just felt the historical significance of the moment,” Sylvie S.J. ’24 said post-inauguration. “Biden’s administration is obviously one of so many firsts, and I’m so incredibly relieved we didn’t get four more years of Trump.”

The inauguration featured many other firsts, such as Amanda Gorman, the first-ever United States Poet Laureate reading “The Hill We Climb,” which highlighted themes of unity and hope, similar to that of Biden’s inaugural speech.

This inauguration was all the more important, as President Biden will be entering the presidency at a time of extreme political tension. But the transfer of power is a sign of hope and progress for many. “It’s the first time in 4 years that I’m hopeful for the future. And I’m so happy not to have to wake up every morning and turn on the news, wondering what’s going on in the world and what horrible thing might happen next,” said Bourgault.