This year will mark the first all-virtual presidential inauguration, due to a combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing threats of violence following the Jan. 6 Capitol siege.
The Jan. 20, 2021 inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris is going to be studded with notables. That includes the University of Delaware and Howard University drum lines; Rev. Silvester Beaman, pastor of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington; and big stars such as Tom Hanks, Kerry Washington, Lady Gaga and Bruce Springsteen.
They won’t all be at the inauguration ceremony itself. The stars will be involved remotely, for the television event “Celebrating America,” airing at 8:30 p.m., hours after the swearing in and Wednesday’s events, including a wreath laying at Arlington Cemetery and a virtual “Parade Across America” hosted by Tony Goldwyn. See this viewer’s guide for the full schedule.
Virtual swearing-in ceremonies themselves are low key, as we saw on Tuesday when Gov. John Carney and Lt. Gov. Bethan Hall-Long were virtually sworn in from Legislative Hall. The short double ceremony, which included members of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra playing live via Zoom and a blessing by Rabbi Michael Beals of Congregation Beth Shalom in Wilmington, was followed by a video of various community members talking about the COVID-19 crisis, education and economic recovery.
The virtual inauguration felt more inclusive and accessible, and the community content turned a ceremonial technicality — Carney and Hall-Long were re-elected to their offices — into something of value, with useful information and appreciation for Delaware healthcare workers, educators and entrepreneurs.
It’s yet another reminder of the value of virtual done right, a lesson that may remain with us far beyond the pandemic.-30-
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