At 78, Joe Biden to become the oldest US president to take oath

Edited By: Vyomica Berry WION Web Team
Washington, United States Published: Jan 20, 2021, 01:03 PM(IST)

Biden inauguration Photograph:( Agencies )

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President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be sworn in at the West Front of the US capitol during the 59th Presidential Inauguration ceremony

Joe Biden will be sworn in Wednesday as the 46th president of the United States, during a day steeped in tradition and ceremony that nonetheless has been altered due to the pandemic and tight security after the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

Outgoing President Donald Trump entered the White House four years ago as a brash billionaire outsider, but he is being ousted by a polar opposite whose devotion to service, deep knowledge of Washington, and personal scars will unquestionably set a different tone.

Biden, who is known around the world for his stint as the vice president during the Obama administration, will be the oldest person ever sworn in as president of the country. He turned 78 in November 2020.

President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be sworn in at the West Front of the US capitol during the 59th Presidential Inauguration ceremony.

Also see: Washington prepares for Biden's inauguration with final dress rehearsals

While a transition of power will occur much as it has for more than two centuries, this inauguration is unlike any other.

Official Washington has taken on the dystopian look of an armed camp, protected by some 25,000 National Guard troops tasked with preventing any repeat of this month's attack.

And with the pandemic raging, the general public is essentially barred from attending the swearing-in, leading to unprecedented optics: an empty National Mall on Inauguration Day.

The security in the capital has been beefed up amid a high level of security concerns following the January 6 Capitol riots. In his victory speech in his hometown, Wilmington, Delaware in November, Biden pledged to unite the country as he called it ''a time to heal in America''.

"I pledge to be a president who seeks not to divide, but to unify; who doesn't see red states and blue states, only sees the United States," Biden said.

Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania in 1942 and moved to Delaware as a child.

At age 29, Biden became one of the youngest people ever elected to the United States Senate. Weeks later, tragedy struck the Biden family when his wife Neilia and daughter Naomi were killed and sons Hunter and Beau critically injured in an auto accident.

Biden was sworn into the US Senate at his sons' hospital bedside and began commuting from Wilmington to Washington every day. For five years, he raised Beau and Hunter as a single father, with the help of his sister Valerie and his family.

Biden married again five years after Neilia`s death, to his current wife Jill. The couple married on June 17, 1977, at the United Nations Chapel in New York City and has one daughter together, Ashley Blazer, who was born in 1981.

The 2020 race marked Biden's third attempt at running for President. He first tried in 1988 but dropped out after allegations of plagiarism. He ended his second attempt in 2008 after garnering less than one per cent in the crucial Iowa caucuses.

Biden served as vice president in the former president Barack Obama administration for two terms from 2008 to 2016. Biden and Obama developed a close friendship from what had initially been a more strategic pairing, with Biden credited for using his working-class roots, folksy flourishes and experience to help shore up support for the country's first Black president from older white Americans in key northern swing states.

It is anticipated there will be roughly 1,000 guests in attendance, the majority of whom will be members of Congress and their guests during the event today. US President Donald Trump has said he will not be joining Biden at the inauguration.

It's customary for an outgoing president and other former presidents to sit behind a new president, symbolising the peaceful transfer of power. Biden called Trump's decision not to attend "one of the few things he and I have ever agreed on."

As Joe Biden will take the helm of America, challenges await him that require immediate attention including coronavirus and racial tensions.

The nation is struggling under the human and economic toll of a pandemic that has killed more than 380,000 Americans. Racial tensions, exacerbated by the departing president to whom they were weapons in his arsenal of disunion, remain to be addressed and healed. 

Trump snub

Trump, who has not appeared in public for a week, broke days of silence with a pre-recorded farewell video address on Tuesday.

For the first time, he asked Americans to "pray" for the success of the incoming administration, a change from months spent persuading his Republican followers that the Democrats cheated their way to election victory.

Trump, whose efforts to combat the Covid-19 pandemic and console its victims have been widely criticised, will snub Biden by not attending the inauguration.

He has also yet to personally congratulate Biden, who first ran for president in 1987, on his win, and did not invite him for the customary cup of tea in the Oval Office.

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