By DAVE MASON
NEWS-PRESS MANAGING EDITOR
Joe Biden called for unity Wednesday morning after being sworn in as the 46th president of the United States.
“Today, let’s start anew. Let’s begin to listen to each other, see one another and show respect to one another,” President Biden said during his inaugural address outside the Capitol and its historic dome.
President Biden called for an end to the division that pits conservatives against liberals, Republicans against Democrats and rural areas against cities.
“Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire destroying everything in its path,” he said. “We must reject the culture of total war.”
The president delivered his remarks in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump, who later condemned the violence but was blamed by Democrats and some Republicans for inciting it. Today’s inauguration, which included a national anthem sung by Lady Gaga, featured heightened security that included approximately 25,000 National Guard troops and dozens of fences around the Capitol and White House.
Instead of people packing the National Mall, about 200,000 flags stood in their place, representing the approximately 400,000 Americans who have died during the COVID-19 pandemic.
At a time when challenges also include a struggling economy, President Biden called on the country to work together.
He noted there are days when people need a hand and other days when they are called to lend a hand.
“Let’s set aside politics and face the pandemic as one nation,” President Biden said.
He referred to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous 1963 “I Have A Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial, a pinnacle moment in the civil rights movement. The president noted Wednesday marked the inauguration of the first female vice president, former U.S. senator and former California attorney general Kamala Harris.
“Don’t tell me things can’t change!” President Biden said.
He said he stood humble in front of those who supported his election and asked opponents to hear him as the country steps forward. He voiced support for Americans’ right to disagree with him and dissent peacefully.
“I pledge this to you,” President Biden said. “I will be a president for all of America. I will fight as hard for those who did not support me as those who did.”