It was an inauguration that by design — and because of COVID-19 — had fewer than 1,000 people in attendance. Virginia democrats, both in person and virtually, took part in the historic moment.
Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a longtime friend of Biden’s, was in one of those seats near the color guard.
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“Joe Biden gave me thumbs up at one point when they were looking at the flags. It was a perfect seat,” McAuliffe said.
He said President Biden’s inaugural address sounded a clear and important theme of unifying the country. Still, McAuliffe found the boarded up windows at the Capitol and the heavy security unsettling.
“We’ve got work to do. We’ve got to deal with Covid, we got to rebuild an economy, but we can’t do it as a divided nation,” McAuliffe said.
Across the river in Arlington, democrats who worked to get Biden elected took part in a virtual watch party, giving the ceremony high marks.
“It was a beautiful ceremony,” Sandra Brody said. “It was beautiful that it showed the diversity of our country, very powerful to see.”
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It was also powerful, they said, to see Vice President Kamala Harris sworn in.
“We paid homage to our very first Black woman vice president, which is a huge deal. As a person of color, that personally meant a lot to me, seeing her on that stage, something that has just never, ever happened before,” Corey Barton said.
This group hopes Biden’s direct appeal to those who did not support him might convince them to consider a reset.
“I think the language was such that if your heart is at all open, that you could hear it,” Marsha Johnston, another Arlington democrat, said. “The words he used were as welcoming and embracing as you could probably ask for.”