Pictured are President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, watching fireworks from the porch of the White House on inauguration day. Photo Courtesy of youtube.com. 

By Samantha Milowitz || Op-Eds Editor 

A typical American inauguration is usually pretty extra: There are parades, grand balls, luncheons, thousands of people lining down the Mall of Washington D.C. It is an occasion that brings the word “extravagant” to new heights and is meant to celebrate the new president and vice president in a pretty outrageous public display.

Of course, just like everything else in our world right now, the “typical” inauguration was not in the cards this time around. Due to COVID-19 safety regulations, President Biden and Vice President Harris’s inauguration looked a little different this year: There were no parades, no balls, no large poofy dresses, no serenaded dances. Each person attending had to wear a mask, and instead of large gatherings of people beneath the Capitol building, there were only cordially invited guests who sat six feet apart in folding chairs. While there were star-studded performances from artists such as Demi Lovato, Katy Perry, and Justin Timberlake, each performance took place in a separate location, some filming from across the country. No crowds surrounded them, and bands members also donned masks. 

But while many things were taken away from the sacred day, some additions made it more relatable for Americans watching at home. Before each musical performance, a person creating change for good around America was introduced and commended for their achievements turning something awful into something wonderful. And, of course, there were cameos of health workers dancing along through Zoom, celebrating life as much as they can through tragedy. 

For the first time, the inauguration was not about celebrating the new president or vice president, but the people of the United States. 

While the COVID-19 pandemic has brought immense tragedy to our country, our friends, and our families, it has also put a lot into perspective. When you strip away everything from the inauguration commotion—the money, the fame, the concerts, the outfits, the balls—what matters is being with those that you love and doing what you love. This inauguration reminded me that we don’t need all that other stuff to celebrate OUR democracy; at the end of the day, it’s not about that. 

For the past four years, we have had a president that cares about nothing else but the stuff: The spectacle of public office, appearances, saving face, being a winner. But when you have 400,000 deaths from a virus in a country, how can anything else matter? The former president Donald Trump always prioritized himself over the American people. Now it’s time for the focus to be on us: our health, our safety, our future. 

I know that not everyone is a fan of President Biden or Vice President Harris, but I do believe that they will prioritize us as a nation over their own selfish endeavors. And I think one only has to look at their inauguration to see that. 

Senior Samantha Milowitz is the Op-Eds editor. Her email is smilowit@fand.edu