The 2021 inauguration will go down in history, but in what way?

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The 59th inauguration of a United States president will go down in the history books. Many traditions aren’t happening, and possibly a new tradition will be started.

There was no giant parade, inaugural balls are being held virtually, and many locations around the Capitol are closed to the public. Guests were socially distanced, as the inauguration happened during the middle of a pandemic.

Another notable difference is President Donald Trump was not in attendance. President Trump left the White House Wednesday morning before any of the events started. The Associated Press does report the president left a note for President-elect Joe Biden. That will be a tradition that still stands.

With President Trump’s departure, it will be the first time since 1869 we will not see an image of an outgoing and incoming president at the same time.

The country saw another first when Kamala Harris was sworn-in as vice president. She is the first female and woman of color to hold the office.

Another tradition that still happened is former presidents attended. Former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton witnessed President Biden take the oath of office. Vice President Mike Pence also attended.

A new tradition that will possibly start is newly inaugurated President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Purdue University Fort Wayne Assistant History Professor Jeff Malanson said it’s sometimes hard to decipher if we’re actually seeing a historical moment, because we’re living it.

However, Malanson believes a series of events led to this inauguration to be historic. He said the pandemic, the actual election itself, and the riots at the Capitol all culminated into making it a historic day.

But how will it be remembered in years to come?

“We don’t yet know how all of this is going to resolve itself. That’s the other big thing that we all kind of struggle with is we think of the current moment as being historically significant, but we don’t necessarily know what that significance is going to be… every text book is going to talk about COVID-19 and the election of 2020, and the insurrection on January 6th. And you know, Trump is the only president to be impeached twice. We know that these will be historically significant moments, but the kind of story that’s told about them, I think is yet to be kind of concluded,” said Malanson.

Despite all of this being historical, Malanson said the biggest takeaway is what’s to come.

“I think it’s going to be change. I think the Biden Administration has really gone out of its way to emphasize change from the last four years. And even to emphasize some points of change from the prior Obama Administration. So I think really in the current moment, the big thing is going to be change. I think the other big call that we’re going to see from President Biden is a call for unity. He’s been making that pitch for a long time now. I think he mentions it in his inaugural address. And I think he’s going to try and make the good faith effort to see that move forward. As a society we’ve become way too fractured.”

As for what will be memorable about the inauguration, that will be subjective. Here are some memorable moments of past inaugurations:

  • John F. Kennedy’s quote, 1961, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt’s quote, 1933, “Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
  • Maya Angelou’s poem, On the Pulse of Morning, Bill Clinton’s 1993 inauguration
  • Aretha Franklin’s performance, Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration

Coming up during First at Five and the News at Six, WANE 15 will have team coverage of the inauguration. We’ll also hear from a local professor on how this inauguration will be taught to future generations.

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