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Peace, unity needed today and in future

President Donald Trump will leave the White House today and Joe Biden will take the oath of office in a promised peaceful transition, but likely without any personal interaction.

Trump has said he will not attend Biden’s inauguration today, the first outgoing president to skip the ceremony since Andrew Johnson more than a century and a half ago. Instead, he plans to leave Washington this morning in a grand airbase ceremony.

However, Trump did release a 20-minute recorded farewell video Tuesday, just as Biden landed at Joint Base Andrews, in which Trump extended “best wishes” to the incoming administration, even without mentioning Biden by name.

The noon transfer of power is not the only thing about today that we hope is peaceful.

As a starkly divided America still reels from the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, soaring COVID-19 case numbers and the unemployment numbers that have resulted, Biden’s inaugural address will be delivered to an unusually small in-person group due to COVID-19 protocol and security concerns.

U.S. Secret Service tightened security in and around the Capitol a week early in preparation, and the city center is essentially on lockdown with streets blocked, high fencing installed and tens of thousands of National Guard and other law enforcement officers stationed around the area.

Indeed, it will be an inauguration like no other.

Fortunately, though, armed protests planned for this past weekend around the country were mostly a bust, and we remain hopeful that the thorough preparations in our nation’s capital maintain the peace there, as well as in other cities around the nation.

Some 25,000 National Guard troops have been brought into the Washington, D.C., area to help maintain order. The deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol — or any other similar incident — must not be repeated.

And so, in place of the people who normally would have witnessed the inaugural event in person, today’s festivities will include 200,000 U.S., state and territorial flags installed on the National Mall meant to represent the American people who could not come.

Aides say Biden will use today’s inaugural address to call for American unity and offer an optimistic message that Americans can get past the dark moments by working together.

Let us pray for unity and, most of all, peace in our nation both today and in coming days. Violence, after all, will solve nothing.

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