Wilmington to Washington: Delaware Takes Center Stage at Biden's Inauguration

The diminutive "First State" will be in the spotlight at the 59th Presidential Inauguration on Jan. 20 when its most famous politician takes the oath of office for the White House.

Joe Biden is shining a light on Delaware like the tiny state has never had before.

The inauguration of President-elect Biden is putting the second-smallest state (by size) -- and the sixth-least populated -- into the spotlight on Jan. 20 when Delaware's best-known resident becomes the most famous person on Earth.

Alas, Delaware will remain without the distinction of having a president born there. Biden was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, so Delaware's bigger neighbor to the north will get that credit.

That won't stop Delaware from representing bigtime at the Inauguration.

One of the religious officiants for the inaugural ceremony will be the Rev. Silvester S. Beaman, pastor of Bethel AME Church in Wilmington. Beamon will give the benediction, which is the closing blessing at the end of the event. Members of the University of Delaware's marching band are also scheduled to perform during Biden's walk to the White House.

It will be a pared-down event compared to previous inaugurations because of the coronavirus pandemic and extra security precautions because of the Capitol riot on Jan. 6.

Here's a look at the ties of those who have been helping plan and manage, and will partake in the quadrennial event.

Notable Wilmington Figures at Biden's Inauguration

When Joe Biden is sworn-in and becomes the 46th President of the United States, he will be accompanied by other public figures from Wilmington, Delaware. Click on each figure to learn more.

Brian X. McCrone, Nina Lin / NBC

In previous inaugurations, as many as 200,000 ticketed attendees gathered outside the U.S. Capitol and on the Washington Mall. But like most gatherings amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the inauguration will be mostly virtual.

Biden, however, will still take the oath of office in person outside the Capitol. U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts will administer the oath at 12 p.m. Biden will raise his right hand while his left is placed on the Biden family Bible, a massive relic that he has used for every swearing-in since he entered public life nearly 40 years ago.

Vice President-elect Joseph Biden is sworn in during the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America on the West Front of the Capitol Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009 in Washington, Biden's wife, Jill, holds the Bible.
AP Photo/Mark Wilson, Pool
Vice President-elect Joseph Biden is sworn in during the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America on the West Front of the Capitol Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009 in Washington, Biden's wife, Jill, holds the family Bible.

The ceremony will take an hour, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. roughly, depending on how long Biden's speech is. One of the highlights will be Lady Gaga singing the National Anthem.

Here is a complete rundown for the 59th Presidential Inauguration, including how to watch, what's happening, and security measures in place. The entire day's events will be livestreamed on NBC10.com and broadcast on NBC10.

The inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States is going to look vastly different than the ceremonies of his predecessors, and the most striking difference may be that outgoing President Donald Trump will not attend. George Washington University history professor Edward Berkowitz joined LX News to explain what usually goes down on Inauguration Day and why Trump's refusal to attend is so unusual.

At 3:30 p.m., the inaugural parade will begin as Biden heads to the White House for the first time as president. That's when Delaware will represent once again.

Thirty-five members of the University of Delaware marching band's drumline will be one of only two groups to perform in person during the parade from 15th Street to the White. They were first informed of the invitation earlier this month, band director Heidi Sarver said.

"Members of the UD marching band have experienced many emotions since we received our invitation to be part of the Presidential escort. It’s not just an honor; it’s also quite humbling,” Sarver said. “Being able to participate in this American tradition first-hand is incredibly meaningful for our students. This particular Inauguration is very personal to our Blue Hens as we celebrate our alum, President-elect Joe Biden, as the new leader of the free world. What an amazing moment for the UD community, and for our country!"

The Tiger Marching Band from A.I. DuPont High School in Wilmington is also expected to be part of the virtual presentation for viewers online and on television.

Only about 1,500-2,000 people will attend in person, as all members of Congress have been invited and are allowed to bring one guest.

"The inauguration is going to be consistent with how Joe Biden ran his campaign, which was responsively, creatively and really making sure that we follow the science," U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester told Delaware Public Radio in December.

Tony Allen, the president of Delaware State University who was CEO of Presidential Inauguration Committee, said those taking part in the inauguration would highlight the diversity of American life, and set the tone for the incoming Biden administration.

"They represent one clear picture of the grand diversity of our great nation and will help honor and celebrate the time-honored traditions of the presidential inauguration," Allen said. "They are also committed to the President-elect and the Vice-President-elect’s steadfast vision of a new chapter in our American story in which we are an America united in overcoming the deep divisions and challenges facing our people, unifying the country, and restoring the soul of our nation."

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