Many people hope that with the start of a new year, things from here on out will be clothed in progression. This is solidified by the inauguration of the 46th United States President, Joseph R. Biden. People hope that with his message of love and unity, Biden can aid the people's' path towards change.
Biden was Inaugurated on a chilly morning on January 20th, 2021. There was no in person attendance due to COVID-19, but a number of politicians and special guests were invited, including three former US presidents. Former president Carter did not attend, likely due to health concerns, and former president Trump refused to attend. Other guests include musicians Garth Brooks, Jennifer Lopez, and Lady Gaga. The inauguration was a success, and Biden was sworn in as president.
It is estimated that around 40 million people watched Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as they were sworn in, and approximately 33 million watched between 10am-4pm EST. A chunk of those viewers were likely high school students, including Bella Vista students. Sophomore Arman Arif remarked on listening to Biden’s inaugural speech, “If I would describe Biden’s speech I would say it was, presidential. Which was surprisingly calming. Shifting from President Trump who’s message is one of constant fragmentation and hate, you forget what a true president should sound like, look like. Biden’s speech focused on unity, which as it seems currently is a lot to ask for. It brought me a sense of relief to see a president who reflected my values. Who reflected the nation's values. I think people, on both sides of the aisle, forget that this country is based on unification. You know, we should love our neighbors and we have to learn to live with them even if we don’t share their political view.” (Arman Arif, Sophomore)
One of the more memorable segments from the inauguration was this year’s poet laureate, 22 year old Amanda Gorman. Gorman’s poem, titled “The Hill We Climb” was praised on social media, and certainly got its message across. Junior Leila Swenson said this when asked about the poem:
“I thought that the speech was incredibly important because it addressed things that are often swept under the rug, especially racism. Her performance was very powerful and provided a beacon of hope to many Americans, as well as many people worldwide.” (Leila Swenson, Junior)
When it comes to policy, Joe Biden has already signed 22 executive orders this week, from economic relief to those suffering to COVID-19, and attempting to prevent the discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. It’s clear that things are in the works to change, the American people are just waiting to see if they deliver. When it comes to the number one issue facing us right now, Swenson stated, “I think that there are many issues we are facing right now, such as climate change, racism, social injustice, wage gaps, etc., and it’s hard to decide which is most important. But at the current moment, I think it’s crucial that we unite to combat the current pandemic so that we can better focus on those problems, and so that fewer people are lost to COVID-19.” (Leila Swenson, Junior)
Arif responded with this when asked the same question, “The main issue right now is getting this country unified and ending this pandemic. However, I feel like this country's main issue at the moment is going overlooked by many. Immigration. My dad is an immigrant from Pakistan, he came here in his 20’s to study in med school. I know the turmoils immigrants face and they need their recognition. I mean come on, kids are still currently in cages and many are spectated from their families. Trump's movements to regulate immigrants coming into this country didn't do anything to help the situation. Asylum seekers, who are arriving here from South America on legal basis have almost no chance of gaining acceptance into our system. Many are housed in disgusting unsanitary facilities as they await their trial. Immigrants coming into this country are not taking a vacation into the USA to see what it’s like. They’re not murderers, rapists, drug abusers. They’re victims and they need to be recognized as such.” (Arman Arif, Sophomore)