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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
The Inauguration Of Joe Biden. Aired 12-12:30p ET
Aired January 20, 2021 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No progress, only exhausting outrage. No nation, only a state of chaos. This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward. And, we must meet this moment as the United States of America. If we do that, I guarantee you, we will not fail.
We have never, ever, ever, ever failed in America. We have acted together. And so today at this time in this place, let's start afresh all of us. Let's begin and listen to one another again. Hear one another. See one another. Show respect to one another. Policy doesn't have to be a raging fire destroying everything in its
path. Every disagreement doesn't have to be a cause for total war. And we must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured.
BIDEN: My fellow Americans, we have to be different than this. America has to be better than this and I believe America is so much better than this. Just look around. Here we stand in the shadow of the Capitol Dome. As it was mentioned earlier, completed amid the civil war, when the union itself was literally hanging in the balance. Yet we endured. We prevailed.
Here we stand, looking out on the great mall where Dr. King spoke of his dream. Here we stand where 108 years ago at other inaugural, thousands of protesters tried to block brave women marching for the right to vote. And today we mark the swearing in of the first woman in American history elected to national office, Vice President Kamala Harris. Don't tell me things can't change.
BIDEN: Here we stand across the Potomac from Arlington cemetery where heroes, who gave the last full measure of devotion, rest in eternal peace. And here we stand, just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground. It did not happen. It will never happen. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever. Not ever.
BIDEN: Well, those who supported our campaign, I'm humbled by the faith you placed in us. To all those who did not support us, let me say this. Hear me out as we move forward. Take a measure of me and my heart. If you still disagree, so be it. That's democracy. That's America.
The right to dissent peaceably within the guardrails of our republic is perhaps this nation's greatest strength. Yet hear me clearly. Disagreement must not lead to disunion and I pledge this to you. I will be a president for all Americans, all Americans.
BIDEN: And I promise you, I will fight as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did.
Many centuries ago, Saint Augusta, a saint in my church wrote that people was a multitude defined by the common objects of their love. Defined by the common objects of their love. What are the common objects we as Americans love that define us as Americans? I think we know opportunity, security, liberty, dignity, respect, honor and yes, the truth.
BIDEN: Recent weeks and months have taught us a painful lesson. There is truth and there are lies. Lies told for power and for profit and each of us have a duty and a responsibility as citizens, as Americans, and especially as leaders, leaders who have pledged to honor our constitution and protect our nation, to defend the truth and defeat the lies.
BIDEN: I understand that many of my fellow Americans view the future with fear and trepidation.
BIDEN: I understand they worry and trepidation. I understand they worry about their jobs. I understand like my dad they lay a bed - wondering kind of keep my healthcare, kind of pay my mortgage, thinking about their families, about what comes next. I promise you I get it.
But the answer is not to turn inward to treat into competing fractions, distrusting those who don't look like you or where should the way you do or don't get their news in the same sources you do. We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal.
We can do this. If we open our soul instead of hardening our hearts, if we show a little tolerance and you - and if we're willing to stand on the other person shoes as my mom would say just for a moment, stand in their shoes because here's the thing about life. There's no accounting for what fate will deal you. Some days when you
need a hand, there are other days when we're called to lend a hand. That's how it has to be. It's what we do for one another. And if we are this way, our country will be stronger, more prosperous, more ready for the future and we can still disagree.
My fellow Americans, in the work ahead of us, we're going to need each other. We need all our strength to persevere through this dark winter. We're entering what may be the toughest and deadliest period of the virus. We must set aside politics and finally face this pandemic as one nation, one nation.
BIDEN: And I promise you this. As the bible says, weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. We will get through this together, together.
BIDEN: Look, folks, all my colleagues I serve with in the house and the senate up here, we all understands the world is watching, watching all of us today. So here's my message to those beyond our borders.
America has been tested, and we've come out stronger for it. We will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again. Not to meet yesterday's challenges but today's and tomorrow's challenges. And we'll lead, not merely by the example of our power, but by the power of our example.
BIDEN: We'll be a strong and trusted partner for peace, progress and security. Look, you all know, we've been through so much in this nation. And my first act as president I'd like to ask you to join me in a moment of silent prayer to remember all of those we lost this past year to the pandemic. Those 400,000 fellow Americans.
Moms, dads, husbands, wives, sons, daughters, friends, neighbors and coworkers. We'll honor them to becoming the people and the nation we know we can and should be. So I ask you, let's say a silent prayer for those who have lost their lives and those left behind and for our country. Amen.
Folks, this is a time of testing. We face an attack on our democracy and on truth. A raging virus, growing inequity, the sting of systemic racism, a climate in crisis. America's role in a world. Any one of these will be enough to challenge us and for found ways. But the fact is we face them all at once, presenting this nation with one of the gravest responsibilities we've had.
Now we're going to be tested. Are we going to step up, all of us? It's time for boldness, for there is so much to do. And this is certain. I promise you, we will be judged, you and I, by how we resolve these cascading crises of our era.
BIDEN: We will rise to the occasion is the question. Will we master this rare and difficult hour? Will we meet our obligations and pass along a new and better world to our children? I believe we must. I'm sure you do as well. I believe we will.
And when we do, we'll write the next great chapter in the history of the United States of America, the American story, a story that might sound something like a song that means a lot to me. It's called American anthem.
There's one verse that stands out, at least for me, and it goes like this. The work and prayers of century have brought us to this day. What shall be our legacy, what will our children say. Let me know in my heart when my days are through. America, America, I gave my best to you. Let's add, let's us add our own work and prayers to the unfolding story of our great nation.
If we do this, then when our days were through, our children and our children's children will say of us, they gave their best. They did their duty. They healed a broken land. My fellow Americans, I close today where I began, with the sacred oath before God and all of you, I give you my word. I will always level with you. I will defend the constitution. I'll defend our democracy. I'll defend America.
And I'll give all, all of you; keep everything I do in your service, thinking not of power, but of possibilities. Not of personal interest, but the public good. And together we shall write an American story of hope, not fear, of unity, not division of light, not darkness. A story of decency and dignity, love and healing, greatness and goodness.
May this be the story that guides us, the story that inspires us? And the story that tells ages yet to come that we answer the call of history. We met the moment, democracy and hope, truth and justice did not die in our watchword thrive that America secured liberty - and stood once again as a --into the world. That is what we are for our barer one and another and generation to follow.
So with purpose and resolve we try into those task of our time sustained by faith, driven by conviction, divert to one another and the country we love with all our hearts. May God bless America, and may God protect our troops. Thank you, America.
SEN. ROY BLUNT (R-MO): Ladies and gentlemen, please be seated. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Garth brooks to perform "amazing grace."
BLUNT: Hard not to be reminded of President Obama singing that same song at the mother Emanuel church.
(APPLAUSE) BLUNT: A song that in our culture is as close to poetry and prayer as you could possibly come. And we're going to finish with those two things. Let me introduce Amanda Gorman, our nation's first-ever national poet laureate.
AMANDA GORMAN, NATIONAL YOUTH POET LAUREATE: Mr. President, Dr. Biden, Madam Vice President, Mr. Emhoff, Americans and the world. When day comes, we ask ourselves, where we can find light in this never-ending shade. The loss we carry a sea we must wade. We braved the belly of the beast. We've learned that quiet isn't always peace and the norms and notions of what just is always justice.
And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it. Somehow, we do it. Somehow, we weathered and witnessed a nation that isn't broken, but simply unfinished. We, the successors of a country and the time where a skinny black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, only to find her reciting for one. And, yes, we are far from polished, far from - but that doesn't mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect.
GORMAN: We are striving to forge our union with purpose. To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man. And so we lift our gaze as not to what stands between us, but what stands before us. We close the divide because we know to put our future first; we must first put our differences aside.
We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another. We seek harm to none and harmony for all. Let the globe, if nothing else says this is true. That even as we grieved, we grew. That even as we hurt, we hoped. That even as we tired, we tried, that we'll forever be tied together victorious. Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.
Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree and no one shall make them afraid. If we're to live up to our own time, then victory won't lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we've made. That is the promise to glade. The hill we climb, if only we dare, it's because being American is more than a pride we inherit. It's the past we step into and how we repair it.
We've seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it. Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. And this effort very nearly succeeded. But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated. In this truth, in this faith we trust, for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us. This is the era of just redemption.
We feared at its inception, we did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour. But in it we found the power to author a new chapter. To offer hope and laughter to ourselves. So while once we asked how we could possibly prevail over catastrophe, now we assert how catastrophe could possibly prevail over us. We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be a country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free. We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation our blunders become their burdens.
But one thing is certain. If we merge mercy with might and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and changes our children's birthright. So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left. With every breath my bronze pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one. We will rise to the golden hills of the west.
We will rise from the windswept north east where our forefathers first realized revolution. We will rise from the lake of - cities of the Midwestern states. We will rise from the sun baked south. We will rebuild, reconcile and recover. And every known nook of our nation and every corner called our country; our people diverse and beautiful will emerge battered and beautiful.
When day comes, we step out of the shade of flame and unafraid. The new dawn balloons as we free it for there is always light, if only we're brave enough to see it. If only we're brave enough to be it.
BLUNT: Thank you, Amanda Gorman. Now for our benediction, I'm pleased to introduce Reverend. Dr. Silvester Beaman, the Pastor of the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Delaware, a friend of President Biden for 30 years.
REV. SILVESTER BEAMAN, BETHEL AME CHURCH, WILMINGTON, DELAWARE: As a nation and people of faith gathered in this historical moment, let us unite in prayer. God, we gather under the beauty of your holiness and the holiness of your beauty. We seek your face, your smile, your warm embrace. We petition you once more in this celebration. We pray for divine favor upon our president, Joseph R. Biden, and our First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and their family.
We further ask that you would extend the same favor upon our Vice President Kamala D. Harris and our second gentleman Doug Emhoff and their family more than ever, more than ever, they and our nation need you. We need you, for in you we discover our common humanity and our common humanity, we will seek out the wounded and bind their wounds.
We will seek healing for those who are sick and diseased. We will mourn our dead. We will befriend the lonely, the least and the left out. We will share our abundance with those who are hungry. We will do justly to the oppressed, acknowledge sin, and seek forgiveness, thus grasping reconciliation. In discovering our humanity, we will seek the good in and for all our neighbors.
We will love the unlovable, remove the stigma of the so-called untouchables. We will care for our most vulnerable, our children, the elderly, emotionally challenged and the poor. We will seek rehabilitation beyond correction. We'll extend opportunity to those locked out of opportunity. We will make friends of our enemies. We will make friends of our enemies.
People, your people, shall no longer rise up weapons against one another. We will rather use our resources for the national good and become a beacon of life and good will to the world. And neither shall we learn hatred any more. We will lie down in peace and not make our neighbors afraid. In you, oh, God, we discover our humanity.
In our humanity we discover our commonness. Beyond the difference of color, creed, origin, political party, ideology, geography and personal preferences, we'll become greater stewards of your environment, preserving the land, reaping from it a sustainable harvest and securing its wonder and miracle-giving power for generations to come.
This is our benediction that from these hallowed grounds where slaves labored to build this shrine and citadel to liberty and democracy. Let us all acknowledge from the indigenous Native American to those who recently received their citizenship.
From the African-American to those whose fore parents came from Europe and every corner of the globe. From the wealthy to those struggling to make it. From every human being regardless of their choices, that this is our country.
As such, teach us, oh, God - as such, teach us, oh, God, to live in it, love in it, be healed in it and reconcile to one another in it, lest we miss kingdom's goal. To your glory, majesty, dominion and power forever, hallelujah, glory hallelujah, in the strong name of our collective faith, amen.