President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration is set to be a celebratory event, featuring big names like Lady Gaga, John Legend and Bruce Springsteen, among others. But ahead of the big day, the new administration is first hosting a ceremony to remember and honor Americans around the country — those who have been killed by COVID-19.
According to the Presidential Inaugural Committee, the ceremony, scheduled for Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. ET, will feature the first-ever lighting around the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C. to memorialize American lives lost.
The committee is asking cities and towns nationwide to participate in the event by illuminating buildings and ringing church bells at the same time, "in a national moment of unity and remembrance."
As of Friday morning, more than 23 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID-19, with more than 389,000 dying of the disease, according to Johns Hopkins University.
"The inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris represents the beginning of a new national journey," PIC Communications Director Pili Tobar said in a statement about the event. "However, in the midst of a pandemic — when so many Americans are grieving the loss of family, friends, and neighbors — it is important that we honor those who have died, reflect on what has been one of the more challenging periods in the nation's history, and renew our commitment to coming together to end the pandemic and rebuild our nation."
The inauguration of Mr. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be significantly scaled back due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, security measures have ramped up as the FBI warns that there could be further attacks on the Capitol following last week's deadly riot by President Trump's supporters.
While Mr. Biden and Harris will still be sworn into office on the steps of the Capitol, the event is expected to more closely resemble a State of the Union address, rather than the typical large ceremony with thousands of attendees, officials said.
Typically, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies would distribute 200,000 tickets of the ceremony, in addition to ticket bundles for members of Congress. This year, invitations to Congress members are limited to themselves and one guest.
Officials have emphasized that they will follow vigorous health and safety protocols during the event, urging the public to watch the event from home in an attempt to limit the further spread of the virus.
First published on January 15, 2021 / 12:20 PM