The Truth About Biden's Untraditional Swearing-In Ceremonies

A swearing-in ceremony is a sacred for any public official. It's a time when he or she kicks off a new elective position by taking an oath to carry out their duties to the best of their abilities (via Cambridge Dictionary). And because he has served more than four decades in government — 36 years in the senate and eight years as vice president in the Obama administration, (via Politco) — we can imagine President Joe Biden knows a thing or two about swearing-in ceremonies.

While all swearing-in ceremonies may be carefully planned, not all go by the book. Biden's most recent one, for the job of President of the United States, is one such example. While he may have taken the same oath of office that is administered every four years, in the same spot before the Capitol, and on his family's century plus-old bible, nothing else was the same. Biden's inauguration as a whole took place at the height of the coronavirus pandemic and under the shadow of the threat of domestic terrorism (via PBS). As a result, those who wanted to be a part of all the excitement could only do it the way everything has been done the past year: virtually, streamed, or broadcast over devices.

Joe Biden's first swearing-in ceremony was at a hospital

But, as the massive Biden family bible will tell you if it could speak, President Biden is used to strange ceremonies, because the bible was used when he was first sworn into the U.S. Senate. 

Francis Valeo, a Secretary to the Senate from 1966 to 1977, and who administered Biden's first oath, recalls: "I went up to Wilmington to do it. [Biden] had had that terrible tragedy at the time, the automobile accident that killed his wife and infant. His two sons were in the hospital. He would not come down to be sworn in at the regular session. He said he couldn't leave his children. [Montana Senator Mike] Mansfield asked me to go to Wilmington, and the Senate deputized me to swear him in, which I did. We did the ceremony in the hospital. He was then just about the youngest person — certainly the youngest person who was elected that year ... He had some of his supporters and friends around in the room with his two kids in their hospital beds" (via U.S. Senate)

"He [Senator Biden] made this speech and said he wasn't at all sure he was going to run again, that he might just be a one term senator, that he wasn't even sure he was going to finish out that term, that it would all depend upon what impact it might have on his children."