In an ordinary year, I probably would not even notice much of the hoopla around the Presidential Inauguration. But then – I have to admit that I spent most of yesterday watching the inauguration events. At the end of the day, I felt like I had taken a deep breath—and exhaled slowly—at last.
After the ugliness of the last four years, and the chaos of the last month, we have leadership in place, people who actually want to do the real work of leading. Seeing the President enter the White House and roll up his sleeves and go to work, watching two (!) press briefings within the first 28 hours, we’re feeling inspired, hopeful, relieved.
Here are a few of the things that, for me, were most memorable:
- The overall structure of the events – memorials, music and fireworks for all to enjoy were the headline events, rather than the balls for the wealthy and well-placed of previous years. Another positive effect of the pandemic.
- The simplicity and straightforward speech of the President. It always feels like sitting down to talk with him would be as comfortable as talking with a favorite cousin. No need for an advanced degree to communicate, but no need for yelling and threatening either.
- The swearing in of our first woman Vice President – of course.
- The pledge of allegiance being spoken and signed by the same person. This was the first time during the day when I was struck by the inclusive feel of the event.
- The music – Lady Gaga belting out her rendition of the national anthem was uplifting and then some.
- More music – Hearing Jennifer Lopez sing ‘This Land Was Made for You and Me’ was inspirational even before it was followed by ‘America the Beautiful,’ with the addition of Spanish thrown in, which felt right if a bit brief.
- The Poem – Amanda Gorman’s ‘The Hill We Climb’ was filled with hope for most of us. Whether it was real poetry or poetry for the people or performance poetry, whether it was grammatically correct or poetically constructed, it struck a chord in a purely emotional way for many of us. Addressing our historical failures and recent chaos, she ended with a message of light for the future.
- Los Tres Amigos – Did someone really call them that? Or did I just dream that up? Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama – speaking as one in offering their best wishes and their assistance if ever needed – may actually have been the most emotional event of the day for me.
- Somehow in between all the festivities, President Biden signed at least twelve executive orders, addressing such issues as pandemic recovery, financial recovery, the environment, and immigration.
- An actual press briefing on Day One!
- And the fun: Let’s get Colorful! From Kamala’s “Shirley Chisholm purple” to Dr Jill’s color coordinated aqua marine outfit, it was enough to make the most design unconscious among us start thinking about clothes again. The always elegant Michelle, Amanda Gorman in sunshine yellow, along with Ella Emhoff’s classic checks reminded us that we can all create our own style.
- The fireworks – Oh my God the fireworks!
Take a deep breath. Exhale