“Good evening America, proud to be here in cold Washington DC,” said Bruce Springsteen tonight, ushering in the culmination of Celebrating America at today’s unprecedented inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
If you had any questions about the tone the concert special was supposed to aim for, the boss should have chosen the acoustic rendition of his anthem with the motto “Land of Hope and Dreams” to provide the answer. The event, produced by Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss, was more of a permanent commemoration than a celebration for a wounded nation and body politics.
You can bring all of the Black Puma, Tim McGraw and Tyler Hubbard, DJ Cassidy, Ozuna and Luis Fonsi, Katy Perry, Foo Fighters, Justin Timberlake, Ant Clemons and Demi Lovato that you like to the screen. The core of tonight, however, was always to be found in Springsteen’s poetry “Faith is rewarded”.
Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman tops Amazon’s bestseller list after stopping DC from performing
Perhaps words to put on the currency in 2021, along with Harriet Tubman’s face.
Led by Tom Hanks, the man everyone in America might like, the semi-live special was perhaps the most traditional part of a bohemian day, aside from the oaths the new POTUS and VPOTUS previously took on the Capitol steps had. As much as Celebrating America was as it was with numerous star-studded opening events from previous governments, it was just as diverse.
Even with a Miami set that put Jon Bon Jovi in the spotlight on Beatles “Here Comes The Sun” and extraordinary “everyday heroes” common Americans, Celebrating America was also a detached, solemn, and low-key affair for a nation hobbled by the Covid . 19 Pandemic and the harrowing violence of the attempted MAGA coup two weeks ago.
“In the last few weeks, in the last few years, we have seen deep divisions and a troubling resentment in our country,” declared the clearly cold Oscar winner and greyhound star Hanks himself, surrounded by a DC protected by the National Guard, that more Fortress is as city tonight. “But tonight we are thinking about the United States of America, 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,” added veteran such Presidential events can be believable.
The newly minted President, who appeared in the first half hour of the 90-minute special, was even more blunt and had no trace of Uncle Fluffy’s person, whom he sometimes brings with him on such occasions. “As I said, we have learned again that democracy is precious, and it is because of you that democracy prevailed,” said Biden in the Temple of the Great Emancipator.
“There are moments in our history when more is being asked of us as Americans … we are in one of those moments now,” President Biden said at the Celebrating America concert. “The question is, are we ready? Are we going to hit the moment like our ancestors did?” pic.twitter.com/podvk4h4Gn
– NBC News (@NBCNews) January 21, 2021
The first herself, Vice President Harris, was also on point. The former California senator, the first woman and the first black person to be Veep, echoed the president’s opinion in her own remarks in front of the lights in memory of the more than 400,000 Americans who have died from the coronavirus to date
“In many ways, this moment embodies our character as a nation. It shows who we are, even in dark times. We don’t just dream, we do. We don’t just see what was, we see what can be. – Vice President Harris # Inauguration2021 pic.twitter.com/oKSV5t45JH
– Biden Inaugural Committee (@BidenInaugural) January 21, 2021
Possibly the democracy prevailed against the pre-fascism of Donald Trump as a transfer of power to the 46th POTUS and the 49th VPOTUS. However, given the crisis on every front facing the new government, today’s finale was a suitably low-key finale for the Rise Of Biden franchise.
A trilogy that began last summer with the hugely successful semi-virtual unconventional Democratic National Convention and continued through election day and aftermath in Wilmington, Delaware. Celebrating America was full of those foot-pounding cross-country zoom sing-a-longs that came from the four-day DNC and the distant testimonies of our better angels.
In fact, the special had many of the same players as before, from the man at the top to his right-wing wife to the boss. In Celebrating America, Eva Longoria and Kerry Washington even rerun hosting roles from part of the four-day DNC and the return of Lin Manuel Miranda.
The concert also showed some thinking outside the box.
There was the Hamilton creator and star who recited a poem by Seamus Heaney and digitally got Biden to finish the last line. There was a selection of the inaugural words from Abraham Lincoln, FDR, JFK and Ronald Reagan, spoken with added eloquence by Kareen Abdul-Jabber, Dolores Huerta, the ever-warm Brayden Harrington and Kim Ng, the general manager of Miami Marlins. John Legend sang Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” at night with an empty Lincoln Memorial as a backdrop, a moving scene that in some ways recalls how the EGOT winner performed the legendary singer / songwriter songs at Sundance a few years ago
Otherwise, Celebrating America has successfully completed an inauguration day that began with the sad run-out of town by the rude (to say the least) Trump and then saw one historic television-made moment after another full of symbols and substance galore. Because if this subdued search for greater unity in a broken union had a defining moment, it was not from the rock stars or songwriters, the final fireworks display, or even the colossal tasks that Biden and Harris faced.
It was the three elders of the tribe who had banded together across party lines and generations to see America recover from the damage and destruction of Trump’s tenure and unleash the forces again.
“The fact that the three of us are standing here and talking about a peaceful transfer of power speaks for the institutional integrity of our country,” said George W. Bush in analyzed language with his predecessor Bill Clinton and successor Barack Obama at his side in the city hasn’t been so peaceful in the last few weeks.
It’s not the first time the three amigos have been shoulder to shoulder, but today at the WWII Memorial it was perhaps the most important time they have ever come together.
WATCH: Former Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama reflect on what Inauguration Day means to them. pic.twitter.com/OtNDf7uF34
– NBC News (@NBCNews) January 21, 2021
“Mr. President, I draw for your success. Your success is the success of our country and God bless you,” the Republican told Biden in words that resemble the letter he left from Obama in 2009. “You have today for talked to us. Now you will lead for us. And we are ready to keep up with you, “said Clinton.” Joe, I am proud of you, “Obama said of his former Vice President.
It was a PSA for the US, and perhaps the comforting medicine of a message that we and the world needed to hear.
Or to quote Amanda Gorman’s beautiful poem from today, which was also said by the Vice President: We will rise.
“Faith is rewarded.”