WASHINGTON – In one of his first acts as president, supported by several of his predecessors, President Biden moved a ceremonial part of his inauguration to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia on Wednesday, paying homage to the Tomb of the Unknowns .
Reflecting at the memorial on the first sunny inauguration day in 28 years, former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton stood up as Mr. Biden arrived with Vice President Kamala Harris to lay a wreath in front of the falls, standing in silence for a long time in a solemn manifestation of solidarity.
Approaching the crown, Mr Biden made the sign of the cross before saluting as a military marching band trumpeter played tap dancing.
Mr Biden, who ended his inaugural address on Wednesday with an oft-repeated refrain – “God save our troops” – delivered a message of unity which he underscored with this tribute to the US military alongside of the three former presidents.
Mr. Biden never served in the military, having received recruiting deferrals during the Vietnam War. But his exhibit not only honored current and former members of the military, but also recalled his son Joseph R. Biden III, known as Beau, who served as a major in the military and died of cancer. brain in 2015.
The choice to visit the tomb immediately after the inauguration was a first for a newly elected president, offering a bipartisan display of support for the country’s armed forces.
Established in honor of anonymous soldiers lost in World War I, the memorial has become a place to honor the sacrifices of the American military. Remains have been added over time, with burials conducted in 1958 and 1984 of those lost in subsequent wars.
The memorial was a favorite destination for Mr. Biden, who also visited the site as vice president under Mr. Obama. Former President Trump, who did not attend Mr. Biden’s inauguration or ceremony, laid a wreath there in 2017 but has drawn backlash for ignoring events in honor of the soldiers fallen in action on Veterans Day the following year.
Former First Ladies Michelle Obama, Laura Bush and Hillary Rodham Clinton also remained silent during the ceremony.
Former President Jimmy Carter, the only other living former president, was unable to attend the inauguration or ceremony, but he expressed his support for Mr Biden after the violence on Capitol Hill on January 6.
“Having observed elections in troubled democracies around the world, I know that we the people can unite to come out of this precipice and peacefully uphold the laws of our nation, and we must do so,” said Mr Carter after rioters swept through the building this month. “We join our fellow citizens in praying for a peaceful resolution so that our nation can heal and complete the transfer of power, as we have done for over two centuries.”