During the past week, the world had its eyes on Washington D.C. and the inauguration of the 46th president of the United States of America. Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. stood by his wife, Jill Biden, placed his hand upon his 127-year-old family bible, and was sworn in shortly before noon on January 20th, 2021. The heirloom bible dating back to 1893 was, according to Thunderbird’s Second-Year Tosh Umesh, “as large as the menu at the cheesecake factory,” with a Celtic-cross cover and over five-inches thick. Shortly before his swearing-in, Kamala Devi Harris pledged her allegiance as she was sworn in as Vice President. First-year Thunderbird Sophie Dessart was struck by the moment and said, “When the pundits called Kamala Harris’ husband the ‘second gentleman,’ I realized we had just elected our first woman Vice President!”
After speaking of the challenges facing America, President Biden swore to his sincere hope of unification after a tumultuous election. “Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this: Bringing America together, uniting our people and uniting our nation. I ask every American to join me in this cause. Uniting to fight the common foes we face: Anger, resentment, hatred. Extremism, lawlessness, violence. Disease, joblessness, hopelessness. With unity, we can do great things. Important things.” Following President Biden, 22-year-old Amanda Gorman recited her inauguration poem “The Hill We Climb.” The poem spoke of what we have faced and will continue to face as a democracy and addressed the hope for a future of peace. No matter their political stance, most everyone hopes for the future to be one of peace and unity. We asked Thunderbirds what stood out to them the most from the inauguration ceremony and responses, though varied, clearly mirrored President Biden’s hope for unity. We also asked students what changes they hoped to see in the next four years with the Biden Administration. Margaret Worrall, a second-year from the US, shared that she hoped to see “Better foreign policy, more qualified appointees across all parts of government, a return to trust in science and more informed reading and decision making, [and] rational, measured dialogue with [the] press and international partners.” First-year Pedro Gorozpe from Mexico hoped for “less polarization and to take back the role that the United States had in the world.” Nuria Shu, a first-year MGM student from Peru, is hopeful to see more climate change awareness. “Stability, less unknown for internationals,” said Carolina Duron, a first-year student from Honduras.
When the ceremony was closing with Garth Brooks singing Amazing Grace, I was brought to tears when he asked everyone to sing along for the final verse. The song, which is both a prayer and poem, spoke to many who hold the song dear to their beliefs. Having Garth Brooks perform, who stated later that he was “probably the only Republican” (sans George W. Bush), solidified my belief that Joe Biden is sincerely reaching across the aisle and across the United States of America to unify us once again as Americans. I hope for more transparency in our government administration and decision making and encouragement for diverse voices in policymaking. I also would like to see this administration bridging the gaps that may have developed between countries. Though not every American may believe Joe Biden should have become president, I am hopeful all of us can be mindful of each others’ needs and respectful when discussing our thoughts and beliefs as the future unfolds.