Associated Press photo by Andrew Harnik/Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States by Chief Justice John Roberts as Jill Biden holds the Bible during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Wednesday.


Elvis has left the building, and Joe Biden is home.

And in coming home to our nation's Capitol and to the White House and to the Oval Office, he brings with him America's and democracy's renewed day.

"This is America's day," our 46th president began his inaugural address Wednesday at a Capitol that just two weeks before was overrun by a violent mob that didn't believe he was rightfully elected. He was. And today he sits in the Oval Office.

"This is democracy's day. A day of history and hope of renewal and resolve," Biden told us in a stirring speech about unity aimed at reassuring every American that he stands for all of us — even those who did not vote for him. And that we must stand for all of us, too.

"America has been tested anew and America has risen to the challenge. Today we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate, but of a cause — the cause of democracy. Democracy has prevailed. For on this hallowed ground where just a few days ago, violence sought to shake the Capitol's very foundation, we come together as one nation, under God, indivisible to carry out the peaceful transfer of power, as we have for more than two centuries."

That was about as congratulatory as it got. The rest was a call to the better angels in all of us.

"As we look ahead in our uniquely American way: restless, bold, optimistic, we set our sights on the nation we can be and we must be."

And then he set out our tasks.

"Few people in our nation's history have been more challenged or found a time more challenging or difficult than the time we're in now. A once-in-a-century virus silently stalks the country. It's taken as many lives in one year as America lost in all of World War II. Millions of jobs have been lost. Hundreds of thousands of businesses closed. A cry for racial justice, some four hundred years in the making, moves us. The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer. The cry for survival comes from planet itself, a cry that can't be any more desperate or any more clear. And now a rise of political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism that we must confront and we will defeat.

"To overcome these challenges, to restore the soul and secure the future of America requires so much more than words. It requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy: unity, unity. On this January day, my whole soul is in this: Bringing America together, uniting our people, uniting our nation. And I ask every American to join me in this cause.

"Uniting to fight the foes we face: anger, resentment, hatred, extremism, lawlessness, violence, disease, joblessness and hopelessness. With unity, we can do great things, important things. We can right wrongs. We can put people to work in good jobs. We can teach our children in safe schools. We can overcome the deadly virus. We can reward work and rebuild the middle class and make health care secure for all. We can deliver racial justice, and we can make America once again the leading force for good in the world."

He acknowledged the cynicism of our not-so-better angels.

"I know speaking of unity can sound to some like a foolish fantasy these days. I know the forces that divide us are deep and they are real, but I also know they are not new. Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we're all created equal and the harsh, ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear, demonization have long torn us apart. The battle is perennial and victory is never assured.

"[But] our better angels have always prevailed enough of us have come together to carry all of us forward. And we can do that now. For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury. No progress, only exhausting outrage. No nation, only a state of chaos.

"This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge. So with purpose and resolve, we turn to those tasks of our time. Sustained by faith, driven by conviction, devoted to one another and the country we love with all our hearts. May God bless America and may God protect our troops. Thank you, America."

Wow. A message of hope.

And on day one, after a ride in the new presidential limo with the ceremonial new tag "46," President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and paraded with a bit of pomp and circumstance along the way to the White House. Then they got to work.

All this ceremony, like the lighting of hundreds of luminaries on the eve of the inauguration to honor the more than 400,000 Americans who have died in the past year of COVID-19, was fitting.

There is much to be said for the comfort of our institutions, traditions and ceremonies. There is comfort in these reminders of the sacrifice others have made to protect our democracy.

And the day — Wednesday's 2021 inauguration day of President Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. — is Democracy's Day.