Democracy, unity and COVID-19: Central themes in Joe Biden's inauguration speech as US president

President Joe Biden spoke for just over 20 minutes after his swearing in. Here are some excerpts from his inaugural address.

Agence France-Presse January 21, 2021 02:15:42 IST
Democracy, unity and COVID-19: Central themes in Joe Biden's inauguration speech as US president

Speaking at the US Capitol just two weeks after it was stormed by an armed mob supporting his predecessor Donald Trump, Biden declared: 'This is America's day, this is democracy's day. A day of history and hope'. AP/NYT

President Joe Biden spoke for just over 20 minutes after his swearing in. Here are some excerpts from his inaugural address.

The election, and democracy 

This is America's day. This is democracy's day, a day of history and hope, of renewal and resolve through a crucible for the ages. America has been tested anew, and America has risen to the challenge.

Today, we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate, but of a cause, the cause of democracy. The people, the will of the people has been heard and the will of the people has been heeded.

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

The Congress attack 

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.

Covid and 'this dark winter' 

Few people in our nation's history have been more challenged or found the time more challenging or difficult than the time we're in now. (A) once in a century virus that silently stalks the country. It's taken as many lives in one year as America lost in all of World War II. Millions of jobs have been lost, hundreds of thousands of businesses closed.

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.

Racial justice 

A cry for racial justice some 400 years in the making moves us. The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer.

We can deliver racial justice and we can make America once again the leading force for good in the world.

I know the forces that divide us are deep and they are real. But I also know they are not new. Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we all are created equal and the harsh, ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear, demonization have long torn us apart.

A president for all America 

Politics 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.

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 our 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.

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 souls instead of hardening our hearts. If we show a little tolerance and humility... because here's this thing about life: There's no accounting for what fate will deal you.

Truth and lies 

We must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured.

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 has 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.

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