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Biden, Harris call for healing in COVID-19 memorial ahead of inauguration

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, wife Jill Biden, U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, and husband Douglas Emhoff attend an event at the Lincoln Memorial honoring those who have died during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Al Drago/UPI
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, wife Jill Biden, U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, and husband Douglas Emhoff attend an event at the Lincoln Memorial honoring those who have died during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Al Drago/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 19 (UPI) -- President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris called for healing in an event honoring those who have died of COVID-19 as they prepare for Wednesday's inauguration amid the pandemic and the heaviest security of any inauguration in modern American history.

Biden, Harris and their families spoke near the reflecting pool at the Lincoln Memorial as about 400 lights were switched on, each representing 1,000 Americans who will have died of the pandemic.

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During the event, Biden stressed that remembering is an important part of the healing process.

"It's hard sometimes to remember, but that's how we heal," he said. "It's important to do that as a nation. That's why we're here today."

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Harris acknowledged that Tuesday night provided an opportunity for the nation to heal together after the pandemic has forced many Americans to grieve their losses alone.

"Though we may be physically separated, we the American people are united in spirit," she said.

"And my abiding hope, my abiding prayer is that we emerge from this ordeal with a new wisdom. To cherish simple moments, to imagine new possibilities and to open our hearts just a little bit more to one another."

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Biden landed at Joint Base Andrews on Tuesday evening after delivering a speech at the Delaware National Guard Headquarters at which he declared he will "always be a proud son of Delaware."

"Excuse the emotion," he said through tears. "But when I die, Delaware will be written on my heart and the hearts of all of us -- all the Bidens. We love you all. You've been there for us in the good and the bad."

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Preparing for inauguration of Joe Biden, Kamala Harris

Preparations continue at the National Mall ahead of the 59th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, D.C., on January 19. Pool Photo by Susan Walsh/UPI | License Photo

Inauguration ceremonies

On Wednesday, the ceremonies will begin at 11:15 a.m. EST with the national anthem, sung by pop superstar Lady Gaga, and invocation by Father Leo J. O'Donovan. Those will be followed by a poetry reading and musical performance by Jennifer Lopez.

Then, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Biden about noon by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts on the western front of the U.S. Capitol.

After Biden repeats the presidential oath, he will deliver his inaugural address.

Due to heightened security at this year's event, which will come exactly two weeks after radical supporters of President Donald Trump attacked the Capitol in a bid to interrupt Congress certifying Biden's electoral victory, only about 1,000 guests will attend -- not the usual tens of thousands in front of the complex.

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Those there will be limited mostly to members of Congress and their guests.

Trip to Arlington

After his speech, Biden will move to the eastern side of the Capitol Building for what's known as a Pass in Review, in which the new commander-in-chief will inspect military troops.

Then, about 2:30 p.m. -- joined by former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton -- Biden will travel to Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Finally, Biden will receive a military escort back across the Potomac River to the White House about 3:30 p.m.

The visit to Arlington is expected to last about 30 minutes to an hour.

Virtual parade

One of the most visible traditions involved with every inauguration in recent memory, the physical parade from the Capitol to the White House along Pennsylvania Avenue, will not be a part of the events this year.

Instead, there will be a virtual parade -- Parade Across America -- that will include "diverse, dynamic performances" nationwide and honor Americans and front-line health workers, according to Biden's transition team.

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The National Mall, a long stretch of land between the Lincoln Memorial and U.S. Capitol complex, will be closed to the public and blocks surrounding the Capitol will be blocked off, due to threats of more violence from radical Trump supporters.

Barricades and security fencing have been put up along the grounds, and Metro Transit stations in the area have been closed until after the inauguration.

Evening program

Actor Tom Hanks will host a 90-minute program at 8:30 p.m. EST Wednesday titled Celebrating America, to honor the inauguration.

Singers John Legend, Bruce Springsteen Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato, Justin Timberlake and others will perform. Actors Eva Longoria and Kerry Washington also will be part of the event.

The program will be broadcast on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC and PBS.

Presidential inaugurations through the years

President Dwight D. Eisenhower takes the oath of office during his inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on January 20, 1953. Photo courtesy of Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr. Collection at the Archives Branch/Marine Corps History Division/Wikimedia Commons

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