President Joe Biden’s message of hope, healing and unity resonated on Jan. 20 in Key West, where an Inauguration luncheon at the Harry S. Truman Little White House marked the change in national leadership.
The museum hosts the luncheon every four years, regardless of the incoming president’s political affiliation. The property, now operated by Historic Tours of America, was the winter White House of President Harry Truman, who spent 175 days of his presidency there from 1946 through 1952.
Six televisions lined the grassy and tree-shaded grounds, where 100 or so attendees stood solemnly for the Pledge of Allegiance and covered their hearts or saluted while Lady Gaga belted out the national anthem. Champagne toasts followed the oaths of office by Vice President Kamala Harris and President Joe Biden, and Biden’s inaugural message of unity, truth and empathy.
Below are a few excerpts from the new president’s speech:
“This is America’s day. This is democracy’s day. Today we celebrate the triumph, not of a candidate, but of a cause; the cause of democracy….”
“We’ve learned again that democracy is precious; democracy is fragile. And at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.”
“The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer.”
“With unity we can do great things, important things. We can right wrongs, put people to work … deliver racial justice.”
“I know the forces that divide us are deep and they are real, but they are not new. … The battle is perennial and victory is never assured.”
“In each of these moments, enough of us have come together to carry all of us forward, and we can do that now. We can see each other not as adversaries, but as neighbors. … We can stop the shouting and lower the temperature.”
“This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the way forward.”
“Let’s start afresh, let’s see one another, hear one another, respect one another.”
“We must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured. America is better than this.”
“I promise you I get it.”
“We must end this uncivil war that pits red versus blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal. … We can do this, if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts; if we show a little tolerance and humility and if we’re willing to stand in the other person’s shoes just for a moment.”