President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris arrive for a wreath-laying ceremony Wednesday at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Pool Photo by Katherine Frey/UPI | License Photo
Jan. 20 (UPI) -- Though much of the Inauguration Day festivities were more subdued than in years past due to the COVID-19 pandemic, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris upheld the tradition of reviewing the troops and visiting the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Wednesday.
Biden and Harris presented a wreath at the tomb at Arlington National Cemetery with first lady Jill Biden and second gentleman David Emhoff, and their children, looking on.
Former presidents and first ladies Barack and Michelle Obama, George W. and Laura Bush, and Bill and Hillary Clinton also joined the new leaders in the ceremony.
Former President Jimmy Carter and first lady Rosalynn Carter didn't attend inauguration events due to the pandemic. Former President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump also didn't attend -- they returned to their home in Palm Beach, Fla., early Wednesday.
A U.S. service member played taps and the U.S. Color Guard presented the U.S. and armed forces flags.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was created by Congress in 1921 to honor all deceased U.S. service members whose remains have not been identified. The first service member interred at the monument was a World War I soldier who died in France. Two U.S. services members who died in World War II and the Korean War were later added.
Before leaving the Capitol for Arlington Cemetery, the Bidens, and Harris and Emhoff participated in the pass in review. From the front steps of the building, they watched as military troops in a variety of current and historic uniforms marched past.
After laying the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider, the Bidens traveled back to Pennsylvania Avenue and rode and walked in a military procession from the U.S. Treasury to the White House.
The tradition of a military review and parade dates back to the very first U.S. inauguration, that of President George Washington.
His oath of office took place in New York City, and involved a procession from his home in Mount Vernon in Virginia. During that journey, local militias joined the president-elect as he passed through their towns.
The Continental Army escorted Washington to Federal Hall for the ceremony.
Today, the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment -- known as the Old Guard -- wears Revolutionary War-era replica uniforms to harken back to that first inauguration.
Troops have escorted subsequent presidents as they travel to and from the Capitol and White House on Inauguration Day.
Since the 1809 inauguration of James Madison, the procession of the new president from the Capitol to the White House has become a more elaborate parade that was scaled back this year because of pandemic precautions.
President James Garfield was the first to stop and review the parade of troops along the route to the White House in 1881.
This year's parade was pre-recorded and aired on television after the first family took occupancy at the White House around 4 p.m. Scandal actor Tony Goldwyn hosted the so-called virtual parade.
The "Parade Across America" included videos and performances from groups representing each U.S. state, including a mariachi band from Nevada, a dance group from North Carolina, a Chinese-American cultural group from Delaware and a mounted police drill team from Michigan.
There were also performances by musical acts the New Radicals, Earth Wind & Fire and Andra Day, who sang "Rise Up" as 9-year-old Kaitlyn Saunders performed a roller skating routine at Black Lives Matter Plaza just outside the White House.
Chief Justice John Roberts (R) administers the oath of office to Joe Biden as his wife, Jill Biden, holds the Bible on Wednesday afternoon. Pool Photo by Andrew Harnik/UPI | License Photo