Inauguration Day Thoughts & Reactions

Oh my. I’m still processing my thoughts about yesterday (1/20) and today (1/21). You too? Here is some of what’s on my mind:

-I woke up yesterday feeling hopeful, but also very worried. I wondered if there would be last-minute drama from Trump, or more violence from Republicans.

-In the morning, I heard the Star-Spangled Banner playing on a French radio station and started weeping. It felt like the whole world was celebrating.

-I wrote a quick Instagram post about wearing Converse for Kamala and the comments are pure delight — so many fun and thoughtful celebrations. So many Pearls and Chucks!

-In the afternoon, I stopped at the Tall House to check in. The bells at the church across from the Tall House started ringing, just as I read the news that Trump had left the White House. I knew the bells weren’t related to him leaving, but it felt like they were. I started feeling even more hopeful at that point.

-I watched the Inauguration with my family. We made rice crispie treats and topped them with sparklers shaped into 4 and 6.

-Seeing Kamala Harris being sworn in by Sonia Sotomayor (and her awesome Bronx accent!) was so moving to me. Right before Kamala Harris took her oath, you can see her put her shoulders back and lift her head and I loved it so much. It was so familiar to me. I know that stance well.

-Amanda Gorman!! Like everyone else who watched, I was blown away. I had no idea how much I needed to hear her poem.

-I loved hearing Lady Gaga sing the national anthem. I loved JLo’s This Land Is Your Land (and she said part of the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish!). I haven’t felt that much patriotism in a long time.

-I really enjoyed Biden’s speech. I could feel his sincerity and compassion. He painted a beautiful portrait of what America could be and I think he inspired a lot of people. I especially appreciated the calls to unite against white supremacy. As I’ve written before, the calls for unity (from anyone across the political spectrum) often hit me the wrong way. Though unity is a very worthy goal (maybe the only worthy goal!), talking about it or yearning for it isn’t enough.

Pretend we made a map and marked it and said: we are here, and unity is over there across the page. Well, the only path between where we are and unity is accountability. There is no other path to unity. Saying we love each other isn’t enough. If we want to truly love our fellow human beings, we need to be accountable for our own actions, and insist on accountability from others. So I wish every call for unity was accompanied by a clear acknowledgement that accountability is the way to unity.

-This morning, I watched the Celebrating America show, hosted by Tom Hanks. I was blown away at the production quality. It was just masterfully put together. I liked it so much more than seeing glimpses of the typical Inauguration Day Balls and Parties. I hope they’ll do a program like that every year. It just felt so much more inclusive than a typical Inauguration Day.

-The fireworks made me cry. The flags on the National Mall made me cry. The 400 Covid-19 Memorial Lights around the Reflection Pool made me cry. Katy Perry’s awesome outfit made me cry. I was an emotional mess.

-Today (Thursday), when we ran errands, every one we chatted with wanted to talk about how relieved they were that Trump was gone. They had watched Inauguration Day as closely as we had. Ben Blair had a call with a contact in Hungary who has parents in Venezuela, and said the whole family was celebrating. My DMs on Instagram were full of messages from people around the world who were watching the inauguration. It really feels like the whole world was giving a sigh of relief. All of that brought me to tears too.

-I continue to be incredibly relieved that the Inauguration Ceremony happened without violence.

-I marveled to see how much relief I felt after one day. The Muslim-ban is over! We’re back in the Paris Accords! DACA is strengthened! Seventeen actions signed on the first day.

-During my lunch break, I posted a collection of Inauguration-related tweets I’d saved, on my Instagram Stories. I think they do a good job of capturing my thoughts and my range of emotions — the relief, the poetry appreciation, the desire for both accountability and unity, the love for gorgeous coats! The 5th tweet in the series (about a blaring sound system) seems to be resonating for people the most. I hope you’ll take a look:


Your turn. How are you feeling? Were you able to watch the Inauguration? Or the Celebration Show? Were you wowed by the jewel-toned fashion? Any favorite parts that stood out to you? Any thoughts or reactions? How are you feeling today?

39 thoughts on “Inauguration Day Thoughts & Reactions”

  1. I too awoke yesterday worried that something would prevent the inauguration from happening. I was up early and could not take my eyes off the news. As he took the oath my relief was palpable. I know the fact that we have a new President does not erase the hate and anger that so many Americans have for their fellow Americans. I know that many (most?) of the rioters/terrorists who stormed are Capital would do the same tomorrow if given the chance. And yet, I now have hope.

    And Amanda Gorman…YES. I have never before been so absorbed in a poem. Anderson Cooper interviewed her last night and was practically drooling over her intellect, her wisdom, her down-to-earth manner….as was I.

    And I too would like all future inaugurations days to have a virtual concert that represents so much more of America than a gala/ball can.

    ….and did you see Dr. Fauci during tonight’s WH Press Conference. He spoke of how liberating it was to be able to get up and simply tell the truth, to speak to the science, to not worry about how the President would react.

    We have a great deal of hard work ahead of us but, it is now possible to move forward.

  2. The Inauguration brought tears of joy and relief. I hung on every word. I loved the America Celebration show and agree this should be the new standard. Tom Hanks must host and keep with the theme of recognition and the arts! I loved Gaga and Katy and both of their dresses. Yo Yo and the playing of Amazing Grace…I could go on.

    I went to bed with a feeling of hope again. I decided to post about hope for 300 days on my Instagram account starting today.

    Here is what I wrote today, on the 21st day, of the 21st year of 2000 and the 21st century:


    I am sharing 300 days of hope. I believe all of us need hope. To me hope is obtainable. Hope is necessary. It is not a wish that you simply put out into the universe. It is something that you can put effort into and make it happen. It is a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.

    I might be talking to myself, but I hope (see that) that some of you will join me in this journey of hope. It costs nothing, but the investment can pay out big time.
    All I ask is that you put in the work and hope.

    Here we go.

    Today I hope you find time to dream. Dreaming is so important. Not just the dreams of your unconscious. Purposeful dreams. What would you dream to do if there was no chance of failure? And what if you worked hard on that dream and you did fail? Would you die? No. Hopefully you would go on dreaming. We must dream. Dreaming is not for someone else. It is for you. Dream. Dream. Let your mind go and allow your heart to lead the way and dream. Take it a step further and write your dream down. #hope

    Hope 1 January 21, 2021

    My Insta handle is @sharikowalke and I made HOPE a highlight on my account.

    I do not have a large following and this may only be for me, but I was inspired.

    Gabrielle – you inspire me. Your words are powerful. I think you are brave and I am in awe of the topics you have covered.

    Let the recovery begin. Let the hard work begin.

  3. I started crying the minute the Bidens appeared at the capitol, and didn’t stop until it was over. I ugly cried when Kamala Harris was sworn in. I still tear up when I think about the inauguration. I did a little dance tonight when we turned on world news and heard “President Biden”. I am feeling so much relief and hope, but I am well aware of all of the work that we have ahead of us. It’s incredible how much weight we have all been carrying for the past four years while that terrible, corrupt person was in the White House. I thought Lady Gaga was incredible, and I wish people would take lessons from her on how to sing the Star Spangled Banner. I have no words sufficient to describe the awe and inspiration I felt while listening to Amanda Gorman. Joe Biden was far from my first choice among the many nominees, but I do believe he may well be the president we need right now. I take great comfort in the team he is assembling, and I hope that they will encourage him to take more progressive actions than we have been led to believe he will. I was so encouraged that his speech and all of the messaging wasn’t “me” and “I”, but was clearly about US as a nation. I believe that Joe Biden is a very good man, and that gives me so much hope.

  4. I am SO READY for a truly multi-cultural democracy.The contrast between these younger, brilliant and capable women of color and the VERY SENIOR white men at the inaugural ceremony was striking. We need voting to be within reach for every citizen 18 and over. We need to encourage diverse voices to be represented in our elections. We need to get out of the way of these talented individuals and support them as they lead us to an equitable, sustainable, and healthy nation. I am here for it.

  5. Yes. These tweets are all so great. No need to add any more words. Thank you for collecting them for us. Almost makes me want to join Twitter.

  6. Pure joy and celebration and relief! That poet was the icing on the cake of an amazing day, inclusive speech, fabulous coat fashions, and unity with past presidents. Feeling such gratitude.

  7. I felt so gooooood! I thought I was the only one who saw Kamala throw back her shoulders, raise her head and step into her oath. I could so relate to that.

    I’ve been a weepy mess starting from the January 19 memorial service. We’ve all been mentally and emotionally stretched by the last 4 years. Sighs of relief then we look for heeling.

  8. We woke up and turned the tv on and the family huddled around till bedtime. It was a day of healing and celebrating. I’m so thankful for all the thought and work that went into it.

  9. I was able to watch VP Harris’s and Pres. Biden’s taking of their oaths, Biden’s speech, Ms. Gorman’s poem, and the performances from Gaga, JLo and Garth Brooks. Unfortunately, work took up the rest of my day, so that’s all I got to see.

    I agree with so many of the thoughts and emotions you’ve expressed here. There is much work yet to be done, but IMO, it was a great day for our country.

  10. I cried practically the entire day! I can’t believe it was only yesterday. It simply unreal to watch Lady Gaga sing the national anthem on the same site as the insurrection.
    It really felt like a day for women. And I thought Biden’s speech was pitch perfect. My daughters watched a lot of it with me and my five year old kissed my tears. Ok, crying again. There’s a lot I remain angry about, but now I also have hope.
    Thank you for having these conversations. It always helps.

  11. Like you, I donned my chucks and was happy but worried at first. The conspiracy theory followers were just going insane. But thankfully it was a beautiful inauguration and I’m so so glad they had it outside. Seeing everyone up there was so necessary after the stain of the 6th. The celebration had me very touched, especially the fireworks which made me teary. You know what caught my unexpected attention? Seeing President Biden (gosh it feels good to type that for the first time) and VP Harris in loving relationships with partners who held their hands WILLINGLY!

  12. I feel lighter and so much more hopeful. I still feel so sad about the suffering inflicted by the administration, but it feels like less of a burden today than even yesterday.

  13. I found myself unexpectedly weeping as Kamala Harris took her oath of office. So much relief, so much hope, and so much inspiration that a black woman of immigrants is our Vice President. I felt like a huge burden was lifted with Trump out of office. What a wonderful day.

  14. All of the above. It was incredibly emotional and I found myself watching Joy Reid and wanting her white male counterparts to be quiet; she was expressing fear about violence while the Vice President was making her walk. They wanted to insist that it would be ok. That’s not her experience, and the fear was real for many. If we have learned anything from the last couple of months, please do not shut down someone’s reality.

  15. Yesterday when the Bidens walked in I was choked up and tears started streaming. I distinctively remember letting my breath go at that same moment, letting the bottled up air escape from my chest. It was like I’ve been holding my breath for the past four years, not knowing what 45 was going to do next and in that moment of seeing the Bidens arrive at the inauguration ceremony I could breathe again. I know our country has a long way to go and we all need to keep pitching in. It just felt refreshing to have a fresh breath again. 😊

  16. Emotionally, It felt like getting out of an abusive relationship. The uninterrupted inauguration was the tiny possibility of light at the end of the tunnel. I still feel like I’m on eggshells.

    The diversity of the inauguration warmed my soul.

  17. Like all of you, I could not stop smiling yesterday. As woman of color, I never dreamed that I’d live to see the day with Kamala as VP and and a minister from Martin Luther King’s church win a senate race. I know we are not a perfect nation, but look at how far we’ve come! It’s so wonderful to wake up without all of the negative energy that permeated the air we breathed for four years. It’s great to see competence, dignity, class, and professionalism return to the white house. I feel like I used to feel when Obama was president.

  18. All of it. Every single minute. Seeing the past three presidents together regardless of their presidencies. Had I taken the peaceful transfer of power for granted? I think I did.

  19. I have been thinking a lot about american citizens, how exhausted you must feel. My family is frenchmexican so american politics are important to us because both Mexico and France have tight links to the US for past and present History. First, the silence is such a relief. Then, yes, there was the inauguration and all the feelings, but honestly, what impacted me most was to watch the first press briefing. Suddenly, clarity, knowledge, professionalism, accuracy, culture, science. Since the start of the pandemic I have repeated several times to myself that Poetry will save the world, as a mantra for hope. I was so moved to hear Amanda Gorman and her vibrant brilliant words, and that youth, color, women and poetry were the symbolic force to repair your country. Sending many thoughts.

  20. I didn’t think I’d be able to watch the inauguration live, since I’m a teacher and we’re in person (we were asked not to view it live with our elementary students in case their was violence), but we ended up having to close school for a couple of days for contact tracing, so I got to watch everything live! I cried several times during the ceremony and was blown away by Amanda Gorman’s poem- just wow! And now I keep seeing all the things Biden has already reinstated or signed executive orders for, and I’m so relieved and hopeful.

  21. The last four years have been so stressful and mentally exhausting. I felt a tremendous sense of relief once the inauguration was over. I too was worried that Trump would have one last parting shot. I loved the day of celebration, hope they continue as the balls and such are exclusive and in my opinion a waste of money. The fact that the world was celebrating with us still makes me cry.

  22. Same as everyone here. It was like a valve was opened and 4+ years of tension was released. Yesterday, I went to for the first time since 2016 just to see, and cried again when I saw Biden’s photo and the list of his cabinet members. Highly recommended.

    Also! Michelle Obama. I mean!

  23. You have summed it up nicely in your post and instagram shots. I watched and I felt so glad, so hopeful, and so grateful!
    Thanks for sharing!

  24. He put us through trauma we didn’t know that we carried. I feel postpartum hormonal and find myself shedding tears at odd times. When that happens, I stop and read The Hill We Climb. Cry a little more and then get back to work. May we all start to rest easy again.

  25. My dad – who is 80 and suffering some anxiety – had his first full night’s sleep in months after watching the inauguration. We’re calling it the Biden effect. And we’re in Australia!

  26. We live 15 miles from the Washington Monument (in Maryland) and we could hear the fireworks at our house! That’s never happened before, not even from the local County July 4th fireworks. While we were watching the fireworks on TV, my husband opened the door to try to figure out what the noise was outside, and the timing coincided 100% with the fireworks we were watching on TV. Incredible!

    We are so relieved and HAPPY. We can finally breathe again!

  27. I feel such tremendous relief!!!! It has been such a heavy burden to have a president and administration who every single day worked to make everything worse, and now poof, it’s reversed. Many Trumpers would argue that “that’s how we felt when Obama left office.” But really, it’s not the same at all. Just having a bunch of people act normal and appropriate at the Inauguration was so refreshing (I’m looking at you, Pence & Mother)! Having it even happen at all without interruption from QAnon/Proud Boys etc. felt like a marvel after watching our Capitol be swarmed by domestic terrorist LARPers just two weeks prior.

  28. That moment when Kamala Harris straightened her shoulders and took a breath before taking the oath undid me completely. Seeing photos of little girls standing in front of TV screens with their hands in the air, taking the oath with her undid me again. Joe Biden, not my first choice, but a man of integrity and the experience to get the job done, as is evidenced by his first 48 hours in office…I am hopeful.

    On a totally biased and frivolous note…I like Gaga, but her dress and performance, as personal and emotive as it was, made me mad. Why cannot our national songs, at LEAST at the Inauguration of a President, be sung beautifully, by a serious classical singer, as it was written? Think of Marian Anderson singing at Eisenhower’s inauguration, and you’ll understand what I am talking about. One rarely sees classical (musical) arts represented at these events. All 3 musicians were pop stars, and it just rubbed me the wrong way. (At least YoYo Ma performed that night, and I understand Renee Fleming sang at the Mass in the morning….and full disclosure, I’m an opera singer, so I’m a little biased.)

    But….Amanda Gorman. Her elegance, beautiful gestures and truthful words were just what I needed to hear and see. I was suddenly filled with hope and inspiration. And now to see her Instagram feed full of photos of her fan-girling with the Obamas, Clintons, and Gaga…videos of her mother walking through the Capital halls in her stocking feet because her heels hurt, with Amanda giggling about it….her interview with James Cordon. Everything about her is making me happy and I look forward to what she will do in the future.

  29. I was just overjoyed and emotional through the whole Inauguration Day. I realized how much I missed our country’s rituals based in respect for our democracy. I just broke when Lady Gaga pointed to the flag, and wept through Amanda’s poem and watched our first woman of color VP be sworn in. And I am grateful for the dignity and honesty of the Bidens. He didn’t have to do this. He could have spent the next years in retirement enjoying his grandchildren. He has taken on quite a task and I don’t think there is anyone who could do the job right now as he can with all of his years of experience and knowledge of how this system works. I feel like the Good Guys won. And then I wondered if those who have supported Trump were capable of seeing the beauty and dignity of that day? I’m guessing many didn’t but optimist that I am, I hope that there were some that did.

  30. I have felt everything you & everyone else have posted. I feel like I can finally breathe –I just need to quit crying–it was a very emotional day for me!

  31. Yes to all the relief and joy and excitement! I want to add one more excellent program to watch: the Parade Across America. Instead the usual parade in Washington that couldn’t be held due to COVID, this parade organized by the Inaugural Committee highlighted individuals and groups across America who performed, spoke, and celebrated in honor of the new president and Vice president. I was very moved by the diversity, patriotic pride, and desire for unity expressed by of the parade participants and their introducers. Very well done, Parade Across America!!

  32. I couldn’t enjoy the day as much as I would’ve liked because my children are so cynical about the world. I tried to explain my feelings with my daughter about a woman of color bring VP and she just said “yes but it’s HER” because of her record of incarceration as a DA. The incoming administration just isn’t progressive enough for my kids and I remember thinking in such black and white terms when I was their age and I also didn’t want to discount their feelings but it did put a crimp in my enjoyment. And while I was so relieved that 45 was gone and inspired by the speeches and overall mood,

    I think it will take me awhile to unclench; I honestly didn’t realize what the past four years has done to my psyche. Right now I’m trying to balance being hopeful with knowing that there is so much work to be done. One good thing that has come out of these last four years is that I can no longer live in complacency or blind privilege. My eyes are OPEN and for that I’m glad.

  33. Love all these comments. The whole day – diversity, kindness, powerful women leaders. But that first press conference! That’s when I felt peace…

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