Joe Biden inaugurated, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock join U.S. Senate

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Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States by Chief Justice John Roberts as Jill Biden holds the Bible during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.(Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP)

By Patricia Murphy, Greg Bluestein and Tia Mitchell

In a day of pageantry infused by history and change, Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States. Hours laters, Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock became Georgia’s two United States senators.

Watch all of the Inauguration Day events live from the nation’s capital:

Throughout the day, we shared news from our team in Washington, D.C., as well as updates on the roles Georgians played in the transition of power, and how Georgians reacted across the state.

6:25 pm – Shortly after taking the oath of office, Sen. Jon Ossoff shows off the book of Hebrew scripture he used for his swearing in and chats with U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas.

Iris Weinshall, wife of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, stopped to say hello to newly sworn in Sen. Raphael Warnock.

5:35 pm – Sen. Raphael Warnock gave his first statement moments after he was sworn into the U.S. Senate – on what would have been his late father’s 104th birthday. It reads, in part:

“Today, our country’s first Black, woman Vice President swore in (my father’s) son, Georgia’s first Black United States Senator. That this is even possible is a testament to the promise of our democracy and the covenant we share with one another as Americans. At the same time, our nation faces multiple crises brought into sharper focus by a once in a century pandemic. Congress must get to work immediately to overcome the challenges impacting the lives and livelihoods of Georgians, and people across the country.”

Warnock also posted a message much like that of President Biden earlier in the day, promising to work for all Georgians, no matter how they voted in the election.

5:30 pm – As the day wound down, Georgia’s Jason Zgonc, a 12-year-old trumpet player from Decatur, represented the state as a “community hero” in the Parade Across America. Zgonc serenaded health care workers at Emory Decatur Hospital this spring as they changed shifts caring for COVID patients.

Decatur 12-year old plays God Bless America for the Inauguration

5:00 pm – With the final business of the 2020 election wrapped up today, we’re all looking ahead to what’s next in Georgia politics, including a possible run from Stacey Abrams, who played an important role in the successes Georgia Democrats marked today. Here was her message today:

4:55 pm – The senior Republican of Georgia’s congressional delegation, U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, released a statement reacting to the day’s events. He thanked the National Guard for their work protecting the Capitol and offered a note of unity to the new administration:

“This morning, I attended the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol to bear witness to the American tradition of a peaceful transfer of power, and I’d like to extend formal congratulations to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

“President Biden has vowed to work for all Americans, and if he holds to that promise, America will prosper. More unites us than divides us as Americans, and I will continue to fight for policies that make our state and country a better place for everyone.”

4:50 pmVice President Kamala Harris swears in Jon Ossoff, the Rev. Raphael Warnock, and California’s Alex Padilla at the same time. All three are now U.S. senators.

Georgia’s Rev. Raphael Warnock, left, and Jon Ossoff, right, are sworn into the Senate along with Alex Padilla of California on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. (Video image from C-SPAN)

4:30 pm – The Senate gavels into session with a prayer from Senate Chaplain Barry Black. “Let the healing begin,” he prays.

The Senate will be under Republican control, with a GOP as presiding officer, for about 20 more minutes, when Jon Ossoff, the Rev. Raphael Warnock, and California’s Alex Padilla will be sworn in as the chamber’s newest members and give Democrats a 50-50 majority, since Vice President Harris is now the tie-breaking vote.

4:10 pm – Moments before he is sworn in as Georgia’s senior U.S. senator, Jon Ossoff spoke with Greg Bluestein told the AJC’s Greg Bluestein about what he sees as his task ahead.

“I really had to step back and reflect on what an extraordinary opportunity this is to do good — and the obligation I have to make the most of it. That’s exactly what I was feeling up there. I can’t waste a minute that’s available to do good.”

Ossoff attended the inauguration with his wife, Dr. Alisha Kramer, who is an OB-GYN resident in Atlanta.

3:51 pm President Joe Biden arrives at the White House for the first time as president (below). Waiting for Biden when he gets to the Oval Office will be a number of executive orders for his signature. The orders address a range of issues and dealing with everything from combatting COVID-19 to climate change and reestablishing America’s traditional diplomatic role in the world.

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden hug as they arrive at the North Portico of the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool)

3:30 pm – The traditional inaugural parade, with a virtual twist, is underway, with performers from all 50 states, including 12 year-old Decatur trumpeter Jason Zgonc. The Parade Across America will honor “community heroes” from across the country.

3:30 pm – The traditional inaugural parade, with a virtual twist, is underway, with performers from all 50 states, including 12 year-old Decatur trumpeter Jason Zgonc. The Parade Across America will honor “community heroes” from across the country.

featured Zgonc last spring, when he took his trumpet each evening to serenade the health care workers at Emory Decatur Hospital as they changed shifts caring for COVID patients.

President Joe Biden, second from left, and first lady Jill Biden, left, join Vice President Kamala Harris, second from right and and her husband Douglas Emhoff, right, after they were sworn into office during the inauguration, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. (Rod Lamkey/Pool Photo via AP)

3:05 pm – U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter echoes a portion of Biden’s message from earlier today. “Now more than ever, America needs unity to address the challenges we face,” Carter tweeted.

The outlier from the many messages of unity today is U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who did not attend the inauguration and who has called for Biden’s impeachment, even when he held no government office.

2:50 pm – As President Biden and Vice President Harris visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery (pictured above), a reader reminds us that another Georgian, Carlyn Reichel, will be senior director for speechwriting and strategic initiatives for the Biden administration’s National Security Council.

Reichel was director of speechwriting and foreign policy director on Biden’s presidential campaign. And way back in 2001, she was the Rome High School Class valedictorian.

2:35 pm – U.S. Rep. Jody Hice posts this message about President Biden today:

2:20 pm – The new staff of the Biden administration has now been allowed into the West Wing to unpack their boxes and get to work.

One top staffer will be White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield. The Atlanta native attended Sandy Springs Middle School and Riverwood High School and now oversees the White House’s first all-female communications team.

White House press secretary is expected to hold her first on-camera press briefing from the White House briefing room later today.

Bedingfield posted a message to Twitter earlier Wednesday about the work ahead.

2:15 pm – President Biden has now taken over the @POTUS Twitter account. Here is his first official tweet:

2:10 pm – Members of Georgia’s delegation from both parties attended Biden’s swearing in today. A snap from Rep. David Scott earlier.

2:00 pm – The main event is over for most Americans, but Georgia still has two new U.S. senators to be sworn in later today – about two and a half hours from now.

1:50 pm – From Rep. Calvin Smyre, the longest serving member of the Georgia House and a voice of leadership in the chamber for both parties, about today’s events:

“Inaugurations in America are longtime majestic  traditions and a necessary core of our democracy. The peaceful transfer of power in these United States. The words “We the people” remain a sacred honor of our constitution in seeking a more perfect Union.

In the strong words of President Joe Biden, “Inaugurations should not be a celebration of a campaign but a celebration of a cause.” During these perilous times America is bruised, the significant cause on today should be bringing America back together. America needs a healing process.

“We the people” can play the leading role in that process. History tells me that America has met its many challenges through the years and we can overcome challenges facing us today. We must put Unite back into United States. In my mind it starts today for the world is watching us.”

1:45 pm – Reactions to the inauguration are coming in, including from Republican lawmakers from Georgia. U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk thanked former president Donald Trump, but also offered a word of congratulations to President Joe Biden.

12:30 pm – As the events unfold in Washington, Georgians are celebrating the inauguration with backyard viewings and DIY inaugural balls.

Wearing inauguration t-shirts, pearls and Chuck Taylor Converse shoes, a group of five women, friends for 15 years, planned to raise Bahama Mamas and beer to toast to Vice President Kamala Harris.

”We had hoped four years ago to do this celebration and we did not get to so this has been four years in the making. We are beyond excited to have a woman as our first vice-president,” said Amy Bryant, 46, who set up a red, white and blue themed spread of apple pie and ice cream, chicken salad and fruit and veggie platters.

“We are super excited to watch that history and excited to watch Biden,” she said.

Bryant knows some of her fellow Americans are not celebrating as she is, including members of her own family, but she believes Biden has the experience and understanding to make a difference.

“I do believe in unity and I think the division in this country in the last couple of years has been very hard,” she said. “I think (Biden) will come in today and try to bring everyone together.”

– by Nedra Rhone

President Joe Biden speaks during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool)

12:21 pm With what is sure to be an iconic moment in American inaugural history, poet Amanda Gorman, 22, electrifies the audience with her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” which reads in part:

“We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it,

Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.

And this effort very nearly succeeded.

But while democracy can be periodically delayed,

It can never be permanently defeated.

In this truth, in this faith, we trust.”

American poet Amanda Gorman reads a poem during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool)

With her reading, Gorman is continuing a tradition of Democratic presidents including poetry readings in their inaugural ceremony. President John F. Kennedy featured Robert Frost, while Maya Angelou spoke at the inauguration of Bill Clinton. Gorman is the youngest ever to have the honor.

12:10 – In his inaugural address, President Joe Biden avoided the typical bucket list of plans, policies and priorities that so many new presidents rattle off heading into their four years ahead.

Instead, Biden called on the American people to rise to the singular challenge of uniting to work together to meet the nation’s unique and historic challenges of COVID-19 and extremism.

“To overcome the challenges to restore the soul and secure the future America requires so much more than words,” Biden said. “It requires the most elusive all things in a democracy. Unity. Unity.”

12:05 – While official Washington gathered to swear-in the new president, former president Donald Trump landed at Palm Beach International Airport in Florida to start their new lives away from the White House.

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. (Greg Lovett/The Palm Beach Post via AP)

12:00 pm – The new administration isn’t welcome news for all Georgians, especially the ones who supported former President Trump.

Since November, Meredith Davidenko has been in tears off and on. On Wednesday, she turned on the television at 8 a.m. at home in Cumming to watch President Trump board Air Force One as he left the White House. She had planned to be there in person. “I had no doubt in my mind I would be going for Trump’s inauguration,” said Davidenko, 49 of Cumming, who attended the presidential inauguration in 2016.

“I canceled (hotel reservations) the day of the rally at the Capitol. That is when I realized this was over and I need to accept that he is not going to be our president.”

Trump brought people together, Davidenko said, but the country has since become too divided because of the election. She feels Biden has his work cut out for him.

”I think everybody just wants the same thing which is the best for our country. I don’t know how you make that happen,” Davidenko said.

“I pray for him and his administration that he is doing the best thing for America always.” But for her, today is a somber day. “I will be tears in the beers,” she said.

Biden said in his address WEdnesday, “I will fight as hard for those who did not support me as I will for those who did.”

11:51 am – “Today, we celebrate the triumph, not of a candidate, but of a cause, the cause of Democracy,” Biden says as he begins his inaugural address. “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, democracy has prevailed.”

Biden also thanks the former presidents who attended “for their presence here today. I thank them from the bottom of my heart,” Biden says, “and I know the resilience of our Constitution and strength of our nation, as does President Carter, who I spoke with last night, who cannot be here with us today, but whom we salute for his lifetime of service.”

Biden said he spoke to the former president on Tuesday night and saluted “his lifetime of service.” Carter, now 96, announced in early January that he would be unable to attend the inauguration.

11:51 am – Joe Biden has become the 46th president of the United States. In east Atlanta, pots and pans could be heard clanging to celebrate the moment on front porches and in driveways.

11:43 am– Kamala Harris becomes the first woman and first person of color to become vice president of the United States. Harris was sworn in by Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina on the Supreme Court.

11:41 am Leading the Pledge of Allegiance was Atlanta’s Andrea Hall, the city of South Fulton fire captain who was the first Black woman promoted to her leadership rank. She was also the first woman in the history of Albany’s fire department to successfully make it through the recruitment process.

Hall, 47, is also the president of the International Association of Firefighters Local 3920. The national organization became an early supporter of Biden, endorsing the former Vice President just days after he announced his intention to run in April 2019.

11: 35 am – Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is celebrating the inauguration in Atlanta today. The mayor was one of Biden’s key early backers in Georgia during in the 2020 Democratic primary. But COVID-19 and security protocols are keeping even VIPs like Bottoms away from the Capitol today.

11:30 am – The pageantry and symbolism of the day was captured when the Bidens and Harris-Emhoffs arrived at the Capitol and put American fashion designers on display.

The president-elect is wearing a suit by Ralph Lauren, while Tribune News reports Dr. Jill Biden, wore an ocean blue wool tweed coat and dress from emerging designer Alexandra O’Neill, who founded her own luxury womenswear label, Markarian, in 2017.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris chose two up-and-coming artists for her look of regal purple: Baton Rouge native Christopher John Rogers and South Carolina’s Sergio Hudson, both Black designers.

Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff also went with a Ralph Lauren suit.

President-elect Joe Biden, his wife Jill Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff arrive at the steps of the U.S. Capitol for the start of the official inauguration ceremonies, in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

11:15 amVice President Mike Pence and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have both arrived onto the Capitol dais. Pence’s attendance comes just two weeks after the Capitol siege when he had to seek shelter inside from the angry mob chanting “Hang Mike Pence!”

Also attending as an honored guest is Eugene Goodman, the Capitol Police officer who led the mob away from Pence inside the Capitol as they searched for the vice president.

Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen, arrive for the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol for President-elect Joe Biden in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool)

11:05 am – Leading the Pledge of Allegiance shortly will be Atlanta’s Andrea Hall, the city of South Fulton fire captain who was the first Black woman promoted to her leadership rank. She was also the first woman in the history of Albany’s fire department to successfully make it through the recruitment process.

Hall, 47, is also the president of the International Association of Firefighters Local 3920. The national organization became an early supporter of Biden, endorsing the former Vice President just days after he announced his intention to run in April 2019.

11:00 am – When Joe Biden takes the oath of office shortly, he will use a 100 year-old family Bible. As the AJC’s Tim Darnell wrote, Biden has used the Bible in all seven of his swearing-in ceremonies as a U.S. senator and twice for the oaths of office he took as President Barack Obama’s vice president. It was last used in 2013 (pictured below), when Biden took his second vice presidential oath of office from Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

FILE – In this Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009 file photo, Vice President-elect Joe Biden takes the oath of office from Justice John Paul Stevens as his wife, Jill Biden, holds the Bible at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. While many presidents have used Bibles for their inaugurations, the Constitution does not require the use of a specific text and specifies only the wording of president’s oath. That wording also doesn’t include the phrase “so help me God,” but every modern president has appended it to their oaths and most have chosen symbolically resonant Bibles for their inaugurations. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

10:50 am – Gov. Brian Kemp started his morning with a message congratulating a Georgian taking part in the ceremony: Andrea Hall, a firefighter with the city of South Fulton, who is delivering the pledge of allegiance.

Kemp drew more wrath from President Donald Trump than any other Georgia politician and was also one of the first top Georgia Republican elected officials to acknowledge Joe Biden’s victory.

10:45 – Among the Republicans spotted at the inauguration: Georgia’s U.S. Rep. Rick Allen and U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, along with U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, along with a seat saved for Trump ally Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota.

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene – who called for Biden’s impeachment – has said she’s refusing to attend.

10:30 am – Dr. Alisha Kramer arrives with her husband, Sen.-elect John Ossoff to the Inauguration. Kramer missed election night since she was working an overnight shift as an OB-GYN resident. She’s not working today:

10:25 am– U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux watched Bill Clinton’s swearing in in 1993 from far away in the throngs of people who attended.

Today the Suwannee Democrat has a seat up front as Member of Congress and among the few allowed to attend. The AJC’s Tia Mitchell spoke with her this morning.

”It is very special. And right now, is such a difficult time for this country, and it’s a very important moment that we have this transition we get it right and we look to bringing the country together.”

She said she was looking forward to Biden taking executive action right away.

”On day one day one he’s got a number of executive orders that reverse a lot of the things I objected to about the Trump administration, everything from the Muslim ban to the to rejoining the Paris Climate Accord. And those are very important. Looking forward to that.”

10: 17 am – The AJC’s Tia Mitchell has details from the Georgia delegation from the West Lawn of the Capitol.

U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams knew Kamala Harris (pictured below) well before her presidential run. Both have campaign together with candidates like Stacey Abrams. Both are members of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the first sorority for Black women. Williams said she was excited to see her friend sworn in, and more so for the Biden-Harris administration to get to work.

Speaking about the day, Williams told the AJC: “It’s not just about symbolism. It’s about the work that I know that we’re going to be able to get done. On behalf of people in this country who for far too long needed someone standing up for us. So when I think about things like the black maternal mortality rates. When I think about black women being low in so many health indicators and what it means to have one of us serving in the US, the Vice President, it is huge.”

10:10 am –
Sens.-elect Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are in the Capitol this morning. The Democrats will attend the inauguration and then will be sworn into the Senate at about 4:30 this afternoon.

10:05 am– Former president Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama, along with former president Bill Clinton and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, have also arrived at the Capitol for the inauguration.

9:58 am – Although President Donald Trump won’t be on hand for Biden’s swearing-in, former president George W. Bush and his wife, former first lady Laura Bush, have arrived at the Capitol for the event.

9:55 – Former president Barack Obama has posted a message for his former vice president, Joe Biden, this historic morning.

9:45 – President-elect Joe Biden and his family are attending Catholic mass in Washington, D.C. this morning, just steps away from the White House.

While we wait for the Bidens to emerge, the AJC has all the details on today’s events, including plans for Lady Gaga to sing the National Anthem and for Georgia firefighter Andrea Hall to lead the Pledge of Allegiance.

Hall is president of the International Association of Firefighters Local 3920 in metro Atlanta, and the department’s first African American woman to be promoted to captain.

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