- The Washington Times - Monday, January 11, 2021

President-elect Joseph R. Biden will lay a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery with several of his predecessors as one of his first acts after being sworn into office on Jan. 20.

The presidential inaugural committee said the inauguration’s theme will be “America United” as officials announced the partial schedule Monday.

“It is time to turn the page on this era of division,” said Tony Allen, CEO of Mr. Biden’s inaugural committee. “The inaugural activities will reflect our shared values and serve as a reminder that we are stronger together than we are apart.”

Mr. Biden is set to be sworn in a week after the Democrat-led House votes to impeach President Trump for inciting a deadly siege of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday — a difficult backdrop for Mr. Biden to preach his campaign message of healing and unity.

Mr. Biden, with his wife Jill Biden, Vice President-elect Sen. Kamala D. Harris and Ms. Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier “honoring our men and women in uniform who paid the ultimate sacrifice,” according to the inaugural committee. Mr. Biden will be joined by former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama, former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush, and former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State and first lady Hillary Clinton.

The inaugural committee plans to install a public art display on the National Mall that will include 191,500 U.S. flags, including flags representing every state and U.S. territory.

Organizers planning the inauguration have discouraged people from attending in person because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Local officials are now asking for additional security for the inauguration after the violent rioting and storming of the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob on Wednesday that led directly or indirectly to at least five deaths.

“Our goals right now are to encourage Americans to participate virtually and to protect the District of Columbia from a repeat of the violent insurrection experienced at the Capitol and its grounds on January the 6th,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said on Monday.

Officials are warning that right-wing groups could try for a repeat of the Jan. 6 attack between now and Jan. 20, both in the District of Columbia and across the country.

Mr. Biden said Monday that he’s confident he’ll be able to take the oath of office outside in public. “I’m not afraid of taking the oath outside,” he said.

Leaders of the congressional committee planning the inauguration affirmed that Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris will be sworn in on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol as planned.

“The great American tradition of an inaugural ceremony has occurred in times of peace, in times of turmoil, in times of prosperity, and in times of adversity,” said Sens. Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican, and Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota Democrat. “The outrageous attack on the Capitol will not stop us from affirming to Americans — and the world — that our democracy endures.”

Mr. Trump says he will not attend the inauguration. Mr. Biden endorsed that decision. Vice President Mike Pence is expected to attend.

Mr. Pence has drawn the ire of Mr. Trump and the president’s supporters after concluding that he didn’t have the authority to unilaterally toss slates of electors during the joint session of Congress on Wednesday to count the Electoral College votes.

Mr. Trump, who has spent the last two months telling his supporters the election was stolen, criticized Mr. Pence as the Capitol was being attacked.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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