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Biden Becomes 46th U.S. President In Inauguration Ceremony Unlike Any Other

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Today, Joe Biden became the 46th president of the United States in an inauguration ceremony unlike any other in this country's history.

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PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: We've learned again that democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile. And at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

During a pandemic that has killed more than 400,000 Americans, after a year of protests crying out against police brutality and systemic racism and just two weeks after violent rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol trying to overturn the election, President Biden focused on healing and unity. He asked Americans to join together to address the nation's challenges.

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BIDEN: If we do this, then when our days are 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.

KELLY: Today's ceremony was an effort at normalcy in a deeply abnormal time. Former presidents, Supreme Court justices, members of Congress sat masked and socially distanced on the same inaugural stage that was trashed in that insurrection just two weeks ago. In the place of supporters who would normally pack the mall, hundreds of thousands of flags dotted the grass, and members of the National Guard lined Pennsylvania Avenue. One prominent face was missing - Donald Trump, whose choice to skip the inauguration today made him the first outgoing president to do so in more than 150 years.

SHAPIRO: Joining the new president - Kamala Harris, who is now the first woman, the first Black person and the first Asian American to serve as vice president.

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SONIA SOTOMAYOR: Please raise your right hand and repeat after me.

SHAPIRO: She was sworn in there by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first woman of color to serve on the Supreme Court. The new vice president rested her hand on a Bible once owned by the high court's first Black justice, Thurgood Marshall.

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SOTOMAYOR: So help me God.

VICE PRESIDENT KAMALA HARRIS: So help me God.

KELLY: Well, this afternoon, President Biden and Vice President Harris visited Arlington National Cemetery, where they laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. And just a little while ago, President Biden arrived at the White House, where we are told he's about to sign the first of 17 executive orders, actions and memoranda aimed at undoing some of Trump's most prominent legacies. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.