Powerful images symbolize an inauguration unlike any other

Wednesday's events were marked by a global pandemic and heightened security.

January 20, 2021, 11:14 AM

The inauguration of Joe Biden is unlike any other -- marked by a global pandemic, heightened security following a mob attack at the U.S. Capitol, and an outgoing president who has done away with most traditions that honor America's peaceful transition of power.

Here are some powerful images from Wednesday's inauguration that symbolize just how unusual and history-making the day's events are.

Global pandemic at the fore

PHOTO: A member of the U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own" looks on ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan/ 20, 2021, in Washington.
A member of the U.S. Army Band "Pershing's Own" looks on ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan/ 20, 2021, in Washington.
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The coronavirus pandemic was inescapably at the fore of Wednesday's events. Instead of crowds in Washington, D.C., the National Mall was empty as well-wishers and supporters were urged to stay home this year and watch the inauguration virtually.

PHOTO: Members of the media work on the social-distanced riser at the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on the West Front of the Capitol, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington, D.C.
Members of the media work on the social-distanced riser at the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on the West Front of the Capitol, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington, D.C.
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Instead of crowds of people, tens of thousands of American flags waved in the blustery wind Wednesday. The Presidential Inaugural Committee installed nearly 200,000 U.S. flags of varying sizes on a swath of the long, grassy park to represent the American people who cannot attend Biden's inauguration.

PHOTO: Marine One with President Donald Trump onboard leaves the White House ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration ceremony, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington, D.C.
Marine One with President Donald Trump onboard leaves the White House ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration ceremony, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington, D.C.
Saul Loeb/Pool via AP

The so-called Field of Flags reflects "our commitment to an inclusive and safe event that everyone can enjoy from their home," the committee said.

PHOTO: The National Mall in Washington is filled with decorative flags on Jan. 19, 2021.
The National Mall in Washington is filled with decorative flags on Jan. 19, 2021.
Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

Moreover, those who could attend this year's ceremonies will be masked up and socially distanced. On Tuesday afternoon, the U.S. passed the grim milestone of 400,000 lives lost to the virus.

Military presence and boarded up businesses

PHOTO: Members of the National Guard gather near the U.S. Capitol, ahead of the 59th inaugural ceremony for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in Washington, D.C., Jan. 19, 2021.
Members of the National Guard gather near the U.S. Capitol, ahead of the 59th inaugural ceremony for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in Washington, D.C., Jan. 19, 2021.
Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Some 25,000 National Guardsmen from all across America patrolled the nation's capital on Wednesday, creating a military force five times larger than the number of U.S. troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria combined.

PHOTO: Members of the National Guard patrol a street leading to the U.S. Capitol ahead of the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on Jan. 20, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Law enforcement and state officials are on high alert.
Members of the National Guard patrol a street leading to the U.S. Capitol ahead of the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on Jan. 20, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Law enforcement and state officials are on high alert for potentially violent protests as Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States at today's inauguration ceremony.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
PHOTO: National Guards walk to the Capitol Building as events get underway for President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration ceremony, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington.
National Guards walk to the Capitol Building as events get underway for President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration ceremony, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington.
John Minchillo/AP

The extra security precautions were taken in the wake of pro-Trump supporters conducting a deadly mob attack on the U.S. Capitol building earlier this month during a joint session of Congress. Many businesses in cities across the country were also boarded up Wednesday in the event of further violence breaking out around the inauguration.

PHOTO: U.S. Marine Corps. hold the damaged Capitol doors during a rehearsal for the 59th inaugural ceremony for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Jan. 18, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington.
U.S. Marine Corps. hold the damaged Capitol doors during a rehearsal for the 59th inaugural ceremony for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Jan. 18, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington.
Melina Mara/The Washington Post via AP, Pool

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., one of the chairs on the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, referenced the deadly attack on the Capitol during her opening remarks at the inauguration.

"Two weeks ago when an angry violent mob staged an insurrection and desecrated this temple of our democracy, it awakened us to our responsibilities as Americans," Klobuchar said. "This is the day when our democracy picks itself up, brushes off the dust, and does what America always does: goes forward as a nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Trump departs early Wednesday, will be absent during ceremonies

PHOTO: President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump board Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Jan. 20, 2021.
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump board Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Jan. 20, 2021.
Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

Notably, Trump will be absent Wednesday at Biden's inauguration -- breaking from a longstanding tradition. Rather than wishing the new president success as he takes the oath of office, Trump departed the White House Wednesday morning on Marine One to head to Joint Base Andrews for a farewell speech to supporters.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington.
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington.
Alex Brandon/AP

In his speech, Trump reflected on his accomplishments over the past four years. Though he did not mention Biden or Vice President-elect Kamala Harris by name, he said he wishes the "new administration great luck and great success." At the conclusion of his speech, Trump pledged, "We will be back in some form."

"Have a good life -- we will see you soon," he told supporters.

Show of unity during Wednesday morning mass

In a contrast with Trump, Biden worked to depict unity and a peaceful transfer of power early Wednesday.

PHOTO: President-elect Joe Biden is joined by his wife Jill Biden as they celebrate Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle during Inauguration Day ceremonies, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington.
President-elect Joe Biden is joined by his wife Jill Biden as they celebrate Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle during Inauguration Day ceremonies, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington.
Evan Vucci/AP

Biden, who often spoke openly about his Catholic faith while campaigning, began the day when he will become president by attending Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C.

He was joined by top congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle -- including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, outgoing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy -- in a show of bipartisan unity.

PHOTO: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his wife Elaine Chao, former U.S. secretary of transportation, attend Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle during Inauguration Day ceremonies, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his wife Elaine Chao, former U.S. secretary of transportation, attend Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle during Inauguration Day ceremonies, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington.
Evan Vucci/AP

The future first lady Jill Biden and as well as Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff also attended the church service Wednesday morning.

Kamala Harris makes history as 1st woman vice president

PHOTO: Kamala Harris is sworn in as Vice President by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor as her husband Doug Emhoff holds the Bible during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Jan. 20, 2021.
Kamala Harris is sworn in as Vice President by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor as her husband Doug Emhoff holds the Bible during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Jan. 20, 2021.
Andrew Harnik/AP

After more than two centuries of all-male presidents and vice presidents in the U.S., Harris on Wednesday made history as she took her oath of office to become vice president.

The symbolic moment of a glass ceiling being shattered was made even more historic as Harris will also be the first person of Black and South Asian descent in that role.

A diverse nation represented

The inauguration shone a spotlight on America's diversity -- from sight of Harris' mixed family cheering her on to the performers and speakers who took the stage.

PHOTO: Doug Emhoff, Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, Cole Emhoff, Ella Emhoff, and Vice President Mike Pence stand at the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington, D.C.
Doug Emhoff, Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, Cole Emhoff, Ella Emhoff, and Vice President Mike Pence stand at the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington, D.C.
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Lady Gaga performed the national anthem and Jennifer Lopez sang "America the Beautiful" -- while country singer Garth Brooks, a Republican, did a rendition of "Amazing Grace."

PHOTO: Garth Brooks performs at the inauguration of President Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington, D.C.
Garth Brooks performs at the inauguration of President Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington, D.C.
Rob Carr/Getty Images

22-year-old Amanda Gorman also stole the show when she recited her original poem, "The Hill We Climb," to rousing applause.

PHOTO: Former First Lady Michelle Obama embraces Amanda Gorman during the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2021.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama embraces Amanda Gorman during the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2021.
Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

And firefighter Andrea Hall delivered the Pledge of Allegiance aloud and in sign language.

PHOTO: Capt. Andrea Hall of the city of South Fulton deliveres the pledge of allegiance during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Jan. 20, 2021.
Capt. Andrea Hall of the city of South Fulton deliveres the pledge of allegiance during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Jan. 20, 2021.
Erin Schaff/Reuters

Throughout the ceremonies, the nation's diversity was on display.

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