As he departed for the nation’s capital, Biden gave an emotional farewell to his home state of Delaware, his voice breaking at times as he thanked the state’s residents for believing in him as he set off on his journey in politics. He gave a moving tribute to his son Beau, who died of brain cancer, stating that he had hoped to see his son become President one day.
“I’ll always be a proud son of the state of Delaware,” Biden said, tears streaming down his face. “When I die, Delaware will be written on my heart.”
Before tackling those challenges, Biden’s first stop in Washington, DC, will be at a memorial honoring the nearly 400,000 Americans who have died from Covid-19, with 400 lights illuminating the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. Hundreds of towns, cities and communities across the country plan to join in the solemn tribute with lighting ceremonies of their own at buildings from the Empire State Building in New York to the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington.
Biden will be joined by his wife Jill Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff. Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the archbishop of Washington, will deliver the invocation and gospel singer Yolanda Adams will perform “Hallelujah.”
The Covid-19 pandemic had already forced organizers to reimagine the day’s ceremonies, including the traditional swearing-in of the new president on the West Front of the Capitol. Those plans were complicated by the January 6 siege of the Capitol by Trump supporters, who shattered glass and ravaged the historic building, forcing the Secret Service to keep plans in flux to ensure that traditional transfer of power will transpire peacefully and safely. In that unnerving environment, the military has been intensely vetting the National Guard troops to make sure there are no bad actors who would do harm during this week’s ceremonies.
Instead, Trump took the unusual step of asking staff to arrange a sendoff of his own at Joint Base Andrews, suggesting that he’d like to see a red carpet, a Color Guard and a 21-gun-salute.
On Wednesday, Biden will attend church at St. Matthews in Washington, DC, with all four top congressional leaders from both parties. The President-elect will also lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, joined by former President Barack Obama and and first lady Michelle Obama, former President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush, and former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The inaugural parade down Pennsylvania Ave to honor the incoming administration will now be replaced by a virtual one. Accompanying Biden and Harris as the presidential escort from 15th Street to the White House will be the US Army Band, a Joint Service Honor Guard and the commander in chief’s Guard and Fife Drum Corps. The University of Delaware Drumline and the Howard University Drumline will also participate in a nod to the alma maters of the incoming president and vice president.
Participants in Wednesday’s virtual parade, which will be hosted by “Scandal” actor Tony Goldwyn (who played the show’s President of the United States), will feature comedian Jon Stewart, New Radicals and DJ Cassidy’s “Pass the Mic” with performances by Earth Wind & Fire, Nile Rodgers, Kathy Sledge, The Trans Chorus of Los Angeles, The Washington Chorus and The Triumph Baptist Church Choir.
The parade will also include Americans who sought to lift spirits in the midst of the pandemic including Dr. Jason Campbell — a Portland doctor who became known as the “TikToc Doc”with his uplifting dance performances in scubs from the hospital — and Jason Zgonc, a 12-year-old trumpeter from Atlanta who played during hospital workers’ break times throughout the summer.