President Joe Biden made his prime time television debut live from the Lincoln Memorial Wednesday telling America he has “never been more optimistic about America” than now.
The new president appeared on the multi-network primetime special, “Celebrating America.” He was introduced by actor Tom Hanks and said was “humbling” for him to stand at iconic monument celebrating Abraham Lincoln.
“Humbling because of you, the American people,” Biden said. “Democracy is precious and because of you, democracy has prevailed.”
Biden said First Lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff “wanted to make sure our inauguration was not about us, but about you—the American people.”
“This is a great nation. We are good people,” Biden said, again calling for the most “elusive” of things in a democracy, “unity.”
“It requires us to come together,” Biden said, calling for “opportunity, liberty, dignity and respect,” and urged Americans to “unite against common foes” like the coronavirus pandemic, “hate,” and “hopelessness.”
Biden said “that is the task before us.”
“There are moments in our history when more is asked of us as Americans,” Biden said, pointing to the Civil War and to Dr. Martin Luther King’s movement. “We are in one of those moments now.”
Biden listed the coronavirus pandemic, “economic crisis, racial injustice, the climate crisis, and threats to our very democracy.”
“The question is, are we up to it? Will we meet the moment?” He said. “I believe we must and I believe we will.”
“I’ve never been more optimistic about America than I am on this very day,” Biden said. “There isn’t anything we can’t do if we do it together.”
Biden said he would “respect and represent America” during his time in office.
“America is built of decency and dignity, of love and healing, of greatness and goodness, of possibilities,” he said. “This is a story that guides us, inspires us, and unites us, today and always.”
Biden added: “Thank you for this honor. I will give my all to you.”
Vice President Kamala Harris also spoke from the Lincoln Memorial Wednesday night, saying “this moment embodies our character as a nation.”
“It demonstrates who we are even in dark times,” she said. “We not only dream, we do. We not only see what has been, we see what can be.”
“We shoot for the moon and then we plant our flag on it,” she continued. “We are bold, fearless and ambitious. We are undaunted in our belief that we shall overcome, that we will rise up.”She added: “This is American aspiration.”
Harris made history Wednesday, being sworn in as the first female vice president of the United States.
“A great experiment takes great determination, the will to do the work and then the wisdom to keep refining, keep tinkering, keep perfecting,” Harris said. “The same determination is being realized in America today.”
Harris called on Americans to have the “courage” to “see beyond crisis, to do what is hard to do,” and called on Americans to “unite.”
Harris called on Americans to “believe in ourselves, believe in our country, believe in what we can do, together.”
The short remarks from the Lincoln Memorial Wednesday night echoed much of the sentiment of Biden’s inaugural address earlier in the day, when he called for unity in a nation suffering from “deep” political divisions and the coronavirus pandemic that has crippled the country.
“This is America’s day. This is democracy’s day,” Biden said in his address. “America has been tested anew and America has risen to the challenge.”
Biden was sworn in with his hand on his family Bible – the same one he has used to take the oath office in the past. The oath was administered by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. Standing beside Biden was first lady Jill Biden, his son, Hunter Biden, and daughter Ashley Biden.
During his first day in office, Biden signed 17 executive orders and actions—rolling back Trump-era policies and directives, and restoring Obama-era programs.