On Wednesday, the nation turns to Washington D.C. to watch the Inauguration of the 46th U.S. President Joe Biden. Among those in the unusually small, socially distanced crowd will be Michigan’s Governor Gretchen Whitmer serving as one of the co-chairs of the inauguration committee.
This inauguration is different from any other: it takes place amid a global pandemic, after failed insurrection two weeks ago to the day, and marks the swearing in of the first female vice president.
In a normal year, this would already be a massive undertaking: planning one of the nation’s most important traditions. This year, it’s a different kind of feat.
“It’s just got to look a lot different, and that’s okay,” Whitmer said. “Our goal was to make sure we honor the Inaugural traditions, that we showcase the strength and resilience of our nation, and that we bring Americans together to mark a new beginning”
The nation’s capital is packed this year. However, instead of excited citizens drinking in the fanfare of a new administration, the city is full of National Guard members from across the country. There are currently 25,000 troops in Washington D.C., more than any other point in history, and 20,000 more than are currently stationed in Afghanistan. Whitmer said all governors were asked to send troops, and their presence connotes a commitment to tradition.
“Peaceful transfer of power is a cornerstone of our democracy, and our leadership in the world,” Whitmer said. “We are committed to that and hopefully this moment is a real opportunity for us, all Americans and people who reside in the United states of American to recognize that’s what binds us and that’s what should be paramount as we look to the future of our nation for ourselves and for our kids and for future generations of Americans.”
There was not a peaceful transition of power this time around. The pandemic is still raging on with a new variant of COVID-19 threatening Michigan’s residents. There are still threats against America’s leaders and people as the nation’s capital sits on high alert. However, Whitmer says there is hope in a peaceful inauguration ceremony today.
“It is important for the United States to see that we won’t let what truly is a small number of domestic terrorists undermine this fundamental moment and even if the outgoing president doesn’t want to honor the traditions, the rest of us will rise to this moment and we will put this democracy ahead of our individual needs, our partisan goals,” Whitmer said.
Watch NPR’s coverage of the Inauguration here.
This article was written by Stateside production asissant Olive Scott.