The United States ushered in a new era on Wednesday as Joe Biden was formally sworn in as the 46th president in an unprecedented Inauguration Day ceremony.
There were musical performances and a speech from the new president, but the nation’s Capitol was largely void of what is normally an Inauguration Day staple: crowds of people.
Droves of Americans did not line the National Mall — instead flags, lights and thousands of security personnel did.
Still, the inauguration marked a monumental transition during a desperate time. The country continues to grapple with a COVID-19 death toll roughly equal to that of World War II. And the memory of an insurrection on Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol loomed as Biden was sworn in at the same site.
Powerful moment at Beau’s grave: As Joe Biden is inaugurated, a uniformed man kneels silently at the grave of his son Beau
The crowd was smaller than in past inaugurations, but there was still a lot of pomp and circumstance.
The front of the Capitol was adorned with large American flags. The Marine Band serenaded guests with patriotic music. The arrival of dignitaries was announced over a loudspeaker accompanied by a drumroll.
Seats were spaced six feet apart as a safety protocol. And what is normally the standing-room-only section was instead filled by members of the news media.
Here’s what Washington, D.C., looked like on a historic day:
Contributing: Michael Collins, USA TODAY
Follow Jay Cannon of USA TODAY on Twitter: @JayTCannon
Need Your Help Today. Your $1 can change life.