The swearing-in of our nation’s 46th President and the first woman, first black, first South Asian vice president and amidst an unprecedented global pandemic is historic and “marks a new chapter for the American people.” The administration of Biden-Harris is not a victory of party, but an opening of an era calling for common purpose and civility, of inclusiveness and tolerance, of empathy and grace.

Yet, the raging pandemic, the violent social and economic upheaval, the insurrection on the Capitol, and the open division among Americans, gives one pause to reflect that this new administration will have a seemingly insurmountable hill to climb in restoring confidence in America’s democracy, and uniting us.

Amanda Gorman’s inauguration poem, The Hill We Climb, eloquently captures in these few sentences the challenge and the optimism that has been the spirit of America since its founding:

We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it,

Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.

And this effort very nearly succeeded.

But while democracy can be periodically delayed,

It can never be permanently defeated.

In this truth, in this faith we trust.

For while we have our eyes on the future,

History has its eyes on us.

After more than 200 years, the building of a more perfect nation continues to be unfinished work. Let us be inspired by this new day. Let us model for our children perseverance, inner strength and daily acts of courage. And let us show the world that the American spirit is still alive and well.