There’s been lots missing from everyday life lately, from hugs and handshakes to dinners and dates, and one very big emotion has been lacking, too – hope.
Between the pandemic, the worsening climate crisis and social unrest in many countries, it can sometimes feel like we are living under a dark cloud but last week, as the world waved goodbye to Donald Trump and hello to President Biden, it felt like a small glimmer of optimism shone across the world.
Although the transfer of power may not directly affect those of us living this side of the pond, I think we can all agree it was heartening to see four years of division, disruption and – let’s face it – downright dangerous leadership come to an end.
As I watched Joe Biden become the 46th president, I was struck by the sheer variety of people who spoke, sang and performed to mark the occasion. Age, race, colour or gender was no barrier, and the overall theme of the event, to me, was one of unity and inclusivity, which is the perfect message to send during such difficult times.
Kicking off the performances, Lady Gaga’s outfit was surprisingly understated (for her) for the occasion but I couldn’t take my eyes off the massive gold brooch pinned to her top. I mean, what says peace and harmony more than a dove with an olive branch?
Country music singer Garth Brooks, rocking the full southern regalia of Stetson and cowboy boots, also impressed me, especially as I later discovered he is a staunch Republican. His decision to attend despite his political differences (unlike Trump, the first out-going president to shun the ceremony since the 1800s) put unity at the heart of the service – and asking the audience to sing the final verse of Amazing Grace together was yet another inspired choice.
But the standout performance of the entire inauguration had to be young Amanda Gorman, who blew everyone away with her poem, The Hill We Climb. Her powerful words emphasised the struggle many Americans have faced over the decades, and underlined just how far the country has come to see Kamala Harris sworn in as the first female, first black and first Asian-American Vice-President.
I talk often about the importance of women supporting other women, so I loved the fact that Oprah Winfrey gifted the 22-year-old poet a ring to wear at the event, which featured a caged bird to honour writer and civil rights activist Maya Angelou.
All these little pieces of symbolism, combined with featuring people from different generations and from so many diverse backgrounds, worked to not only celebrate the future, but also honour the women and men of the past who paved the way for this historical moment.
Donald Trump ran on the promise of “making America great again” – but surely what we saw on that inauguration stage, was the first step in making a better, more hopeful and unified United States.
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