Joe Biden becomes president: 11 things you may have missed during an inauguration like no other

January 20, 2021

It was an inauguration like no other - no crowds, no outgoing president at the ceremony, and a surprise flurry of snow.

The very few guests invited to the COVID-compliant spectator area - mainly international ambassadors and attaches - cowered and held their programmes over their heads as flakes started to fall, moments before the oath swearing began.

Here are the 11 other things you might have missed:

1. The armed limousine taking the Bidens to the parade had the number plate 46 - a nod to the fact that he has now become the 46th president of the United States. The number plate on Ms Harris' car was 49, as she has just become America's 49th vice president.

2. Kamala Harris, Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama all wore a shade of purple for the big day - a blend of red and blue. This seems to have been a symbol of their calls for unity between the Republicans and Democrats.

3. Joe Biden was sworn in using a Bible that has been in his family since 1893 and was used during his swearing in as vice president in 2009 and 2013. It has a Celtic cross on its cover and was also used each time he was sworn in as a US senator. Biden's late son, Beau, also used the Bible for his own swearing-in ceremony as attorney general of Delaware.

4. Contrary to everyone's expectations, Donald Trump left a note for his successor in the Oval Office. Tradition holds that the former leader writes a welcoming message with advice for the new president. George Bush's warm, classy missive to Barack Obama was widely shared on social media at the time - but right now, we don't know what Mr Trump wrote.

5. A man was employed just to wipe down the podium in between speakers and performers to comply with COVID regulations.

6. While President Biden was being sworn in, something moving was happening at the Delaware grave of his son Beau.

7. Ms Harris was escorted to the ceremony by Capitol Police officer Eugene Goodman - two weeks after he was hailed a hero for single-handedly leading a pro-Trump mob away from the Senate chambers during the deadly riots.

8. She was sworn in by Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina to serve on the US Supreme Court.

9. At times it felt a little like Lady Gaga's coronation... with special guests Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. The singer, who has long supported Mr Biden, sang a rousing rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner wearing a red silk couture ballgown skirt, a blue cashmere fitted jacket and a large gilded gold dove of peace brooch, complete with a gold earpiece and gold microphone.

10. As Lady Gaga left the podium, the first person to acknowledge her stellar performance was her long-time friend Barack Obama, who gave her a matey fist-bump and eyes that said "you nailed that girl".

11. Amanda Gorman, the first-ever US National Youth Poet Laureate, was the youngest poet - aged 22 - to ever read at a presidential inauguration. She recited her poem The Hill We Climb, with the apt line: "While democracy can be permanently delayed, it can never be permanently denied." She wore a ring engraved with a caged bird - a gift from Oprah Winfrey - to symbolise American poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou, a previous inaugural poet.

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