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Despite an ongoing national pandemic and the recent violent riot by armed insurrectionists, there was hope and joy in the air at the United States Capitol on Wednesday, as Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States and Kamala Harris took the oath to become the first female vice president, as well as the first Black and Asian American VP.
While the inauguration looked a bit different due to COVID-19 crowd restrictions -- attendees were masked, the National Guard was on alert throughout downtown Washington, D.C., and the National Mall was filled with thousands of small flags, representing Americans who might otherwise have been in attendance -- the day was still a celebration of a new presidency and was filled with inspiring moments, big and small.
Barack Obama kicked off the morning by sharing a heartfelt photo and motivational message for the new president, his own former VP. "Congratulations to my friend, President @JoeBiden!" he captioned a photo of the pair embracing. "This is your time."
Obama also led the way when it came to the signature greeting of the day: fist bumps. He shared one with Biden before embracing his longtime pal.
He also shared an historic fist bump with Harris on the Capitol dais.
Obama also greeted former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The former president wasn't done socializing! Following her performance of the national anthem, Lady Gaga -- who stunned in a Custom Schiaparelli Haute Couture gown with a golden dove carrying an olive branch -- embraced Obama and wife Michelle Obama in a sweet moment captured by fans.
Jennifer Lopez wowed fans with her performance of "This Land Is Your Land" ahead of Biden's swearing-in, and honored her Latinx heritage by breaking into Spanish in the middle of her song. "Una nación, bajo Dios, indivisible, con libertad y justicia para todos!" Lopez announced, which is the final phrase of the Pledge of Allegiance: "One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
Another of the day's performers, country music legend Garth Brooks, tugged at heartstrings when he led a singalong of "Amazing Grace" after promoting a message of unity and hope.
Three former presidents -- Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton -- were among those in attendance, though the group was missing former President and first lady Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, who at ages 96 and 93, respectively, had to miss their first inauguration in 44 years due to pandemic health and travel concerns. Outgoing President Donald Trump flouted tradition in declining to attend, instead departing the White House for the last time on Wednesday morning.
National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman stunned viewers with her moving reading of a new piece inspired by the Capitol riot, titled "The Hill We Climb." Gorman received mountains of praise from famous fans on social media, including Oprah Winfrey, who said, "I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise! Brava Brava, @TheAmandaGorman! Maya Angelou is cheering—and so am I."
In fact, Winfrey's BFF, Gayle King, reported that the media mogul loaned Gorman a pair of earrings and a "caged bird" ring -- inspired, of course, by Angelou -- to wear for the momentous occasion.
Andrea Hall, the president of the International Federation of Firefighters and fire captain from South Fulton, Georgia, took the dais after receiving a fist bump from Biden to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, which she also performed in American Sign Language.
Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, who was captured on video during the insurrectionist riot, diverting members of the mob from entering the Senate chamber and potentially saving lives, was also in attendance at the inauguration. Newly promoted to Acting Deputy House Sergeant-at-Arms, Goodman escorted Harris to the dais and received a round of applause from the crowd for his heroism.
There's still more to come! Later, on the TV special Celebrating America, hosted by Tom Hanks, there will be performances by John Legend, Tim McGraw, Florida Georgia Line's Tyler Hubbard, Katy Perry, John Legend, Foo Fighters, Bruce Springsteen, Justin Timberlake, Demi Lovato, Jon Bon Jovi and Ant Clemons.
In meantime, here's a look at how Lopez, Gaga and Brooks prepared for their performances.
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