The inauguration of Joe Biden

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes, Veronica Rocha and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 12:42 a.m. ET, January 21, 2021
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10:08 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Vice President Harris: "We will rise up. This is American aspiration"

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

In this screengrab, Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during the Celebrating America Primetime Special on January 20.
In this screengrab, Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during the Celebrating America Primetime Special on January 20. Biden Inaugural Committee via Getty Images

In her first remarks to the nation as vice president, Kamala Harris highlighted American aspiration and said President Joe Biden has summoned the American people to look beyond crisis and aspire to unite.

"In many ways this moment embodies our character as a nation. It demonstrates who we are, even in dark times. 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. We are bold, fearless and ambitious. We are undaunted, in our belief that we shall overcome, that we will rise up. This is American aspiration," Harris said.

Harris cited the accomplishments of President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, who "saw a better future and built it with land grant colleges, and the transcontinental railroad."

She highlighted how Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fought for racial and economic justice.

"A great experiment, takes great determination. The will to do the work and then the wisdom to keep refining, keep tinkering, keep perfecting. The same determination is being realized in America today," Harris noted.

"I see it in the scientists who are transforming the future. I see it in the parents who are nurturing generations to come and in the innovators, the educators, in everyone, everywhere who is building a better life for themselves, their families and their communities. This too is American aspiration. This is what President Joe Biden has called upon us to summon now. The courage to see beyond crisis, to do what is hard, to do what is good, to unite, to believe in ourselves, believe in our country, believe in what we can do together," Harris said.

9:47 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Chef José Andrés praises Americans stepping up to end hunger crisis: "We need longer tables, not higher walls"

From CNN's Leinz Vales

In this image from video, chef Jose Andres speaks during the Celebrating America event on Wednesday, January 20, following the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States.
In this image from video, chef Jose Andres speaks during the Celebrating America event on Wednesday, January 20, following the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States. Biden Inaugural Committee via AP

World Central Kitchen founder José Andrés joined a chorus of celebrities at the “Celebrating America” inaugural special, calling for an end to hunger crisis. 

“Food is not just a luxury for the lucky few, it’s basic human right to live free from hunger, but today, we have a hunger crisis in America,” Andres said. “One in four of our neighbors is going hungry.”

Andrés, who has spent much of 2020 feeding people on the frontlines of the Covid-19 pandemic, praised Americans who are stepping up "through food banks, churches and organizations” to help provide aid to thousands of people. 

“Food is the fastest way to rebuild our sense of community,” Andres added. “We can put people back to work preparing it. We can put lives back together by fighting hunger. We need everyone to join this fight. We need longer tables not higher walls.”

9:32 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

NASA astronauts celebrate Inauguration Day in space

In this screengrab, Shannon Walker, Victor J. Glover Jr., Kate Rubins, and Michael S. Hopkins speak during the Celebrating America Primetime Special on January 20.
In this screengrab, Shannon Walker, Victor J. Glover Jr., Kate Rubins, and Michael S. Hopkins speak during the Celebrating America Primetime Special on January 20. Biden Inaugural Committee via Getty Images

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and American crew members from Expedition 64 celebrated Inauguration Day from the International Space Station roughly 200 miles above earth today.

"We're up here working with our international partners to find new scientific breakthroughs from improved vaccines to safer drinking water to help people all over the world. Just as we're celebrating two decades of global cooperation and space, it's truly an honor for us to celebrate America today. As we unite for this historic inaugural tradition that spans more than two centuries," Rubins said in a message played during the "Celebrating America" celebration.
9:16 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Biden at the Lincoln Memorial: "I have never been more optimistic about America than I am this very day"

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

President Joe Biden delivers brief remarks during the Celebrating America program at the Lincoln Memorial on January 20, in Washington.
President Joe Biden delivers brief remarks during the Celebrating America program at the Lincoln Memorial on January 20, in Washington. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Joe Biden struck an upbeat note in his address to the nation tonight at the "Celebrating America" concert at the Lincoln Memorial saying he believed the best for the nation was yet to come.

After listing difficulties faced by the nation including the pandemic, an economic crisis, racial injustice, the climate crisis and internal threats to the country's democracy, Biden asked rhetorically if Americans were up for the challenge. 

"Will we meet the moment like our forebearers have?" he asked. "I believe we must and I believe we will. You, the American people are the reason why I have never been more optimistic about America than I am this very day."

"There isn't anything we can't do, if we do it together," he added. 

"So thank you for this honor, I will give my all to you," Biden said in closing.

9:01 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Biden says unity "requires us to come together in common love that defines us as Americans"

President Joe Biden.
President Joe Biden. Source: Pool

President Joe Biden reiterated his call for unity tonight during his speech at the primetime inauguration special “Celebrating America."

"It is humbling to stand here in this place in front of these sacred words. Humbling out of respect to President Lincoln and the office we now share and humbling because of you, the American people. As I said earlier today, we have learned again that democracy is precious and because of you democracy has prevailed," Biden said in remarks at the Lincoln Memorial tonight.

Biden added: "That's why Jill and I, Kamala and Doug, wanted to make sure our inauguration was not about us but about you, the American people. This is a great nation. We're a good people and [to] overcome the challenges in front of us requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy — unity. It requires us to come together in common love that defines us as Americans."

9:06 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Brayden Harrington recites passage from JFK's inaugural address

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

In this screengrab, Brayden Harrington speaks during the Celebrating America Primetime Special on January 20.
In this screengrab, Brayden Harrington speaks during the Celebrating America Primetime Special on January 20. Biden Inaugural Committee via Getty Images

Brayden Harrington, a 13-year-old who bonded with President Joe Biden over their shared experience with stuttering, made an appearance during the inauguration special “Celebrating America."

Harrington recited a passage from President John F. Kennedy's inaugural address.

"In the long history of the world only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger, I do not shrink from that responsibility. I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us will exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it. And the glow from that fire can truly light the world. And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what can you do for your country," Harrington recited.

Harrington also spoke during last year's Democratic National Convention and shared his story about how Biden inspired him.

8:41 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Inauguration Day is about "witnessing the permanence of our American ideal," Tom Hanks says

Tom Hanks hosts the Celebrate America concert spcial at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington on Wednesday, January 20.
Tom Hanks hosts the Celebrate America concert spcial at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington on Wednesday, January 20. Source: Pool

Following a performance by Bruce Springsteen, actor Tom Hanks opened the primetime inauguration special “Celebrating America" with words of hope for a new day in the US following the ascendance of President Joe Biden.

"The last few weeks, in the last few years, we've witnessed deep divisions and a troubling ranker in our land but tonight, we ponder the United States of America," Hanks said. "The practice of our democracy, the foundations of our republic, the integrity of our Constitution, the hope and dreams we all share for a more perfect union."

Hanks added: "To some, a presidential inauguration is a tradition, an act that marks the commitment of a new four-year term. Yet, in truth, Inauguration Day is more than the swearing in of the next national leaders. This day is about witnessing the permanence of our American ideal."

8:32 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Jill Biden shares video of White House arrival in first tweet as first lady

From CNN's Jason Hoffman 

Dr. Jill Biden sent her first tweet as first lady, tweeting a clip of her and President Joe Biden arriving at the North Portico of the White House after today’s inaugural parade.

“Thank you for your faith in something that is bigger than all of us: that we will build a better world because we’re going to do it together,” she tweeted.

8:36 p.m. ET, January 20, 2021

Happening now: Inaugural concert and celebration at the Lincoln Memorial 

Bruce Springsteen performs at the Celebrating America concert special at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.
Bruce Springsteen performs at the Celebrating America concert special at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. Source: Pool

President Biden's primetime inauguration special “Celebrating America" has started at the Lincoln Memorial.

The 90-minute program will feature remarks from Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

Bruce Springsteen opened the event, performing his song "Land of Hope and Dreams."

The special, hosted by Tom Hanks, will also feature performances from Jon Bon Jovi, who campaigned with Biden in Pennsylvania, John Legend, the Foo Fighters, Demi Lovato, Justin Timberlake and Ant Clemons. 

Later in the evening, Biden and Jill Biden will appear on the Blue Room balcony at the White House.