Must-See Moments from the Celebrating America Inauguration Special

Opening Number

Bruce Springsteen kicked off the festivities with a performance of his song “Land of Hope and Dreams” outside the Lincoln Memorial.

“Big wheels roll through fields/Where sunlight streams/Meet me in a land of hope and dreams,” the rock legend sang, before Tom Hanks appeared as host to officially start off the night.

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Essential Worker Appreciation

The special, which inauguration organizers had said would be a “capstone” to the day meant to showcase national unity, mixed celebrity appearances and performances with spotlights on regular Americans.

For example, essential workers were honored for their tireless work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, including grocery store employees, delivery drivers and more. The sweet moment was followed by a performance from Jon Bon Jovi, who covered “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles.

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Moving Moments

Celebrated musician Yo-Yo Ma gave an emotional solo performance of “Amazing Grace.” 

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Uplifting Performances

After encouraging words from President Joe Biden, Ant Clemons and Justin Timberlake took over to perform their song “Better Days Are Coming.”

Other powerful performances that were shown throughout the night included ones from the Black Pumas, the Foo Fighters, Luis Fonsi, DJ Cassidy, Tyler Hubbard, Tim McGraw and a poetry reading by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

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Inaugural Readings

Brayden Harrington, a 13-year-old boy who bonded with the president over their shared experience with stuttering, appeared in a segment to read a passage from President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural address.

The segment included three others reading notable parts of previous inauguration speeches, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

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Broadway Brings the Sunshine

Broadway stars harmonized together on Rent‘s most famous number, “Seasons of Love,” before breaking out into The 5th Dimension’s “Let the Sunshine In.”

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Sharing the Spotlight

Throughout the night, the primetime special highlighted Americans who have done their part to help during the pandemic, including organizations, volunteers and children who’ve stepped up to help feed others.

Seven-year-old Morgan Marsh-McGlone from Belleville, Wisconsin, who raised over $50,000 money for charity through her virtual lemonade stand, was among those who were featured.

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Honoring Those We’ve Lost

Part of the special looked back at the previous night, when gospel performer Yolanda Adams sang a version of Leonard Cohen’s much-loved and much-covered “Hallelujah” to honor of the hundreds of thousands of lives that were lost to COVID-19 during a memorial at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.

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Legend on the Keys

Vice President Kamala Harris addressed the American people ahead of John Legend’s sultry performance of “Feeling Good” in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

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3 Former Presidents Reunite

Former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama reunited for the third time on Inauguration Day in a segment in which they discussed the importance of a peaceful transfer of power — two weeks after the attack on the Capitol during a meeting of Congress.

Each president closed out the segment with kind and encouraging words for President Biden, wishing him luck on his first day. (Outgoing President Donald Trump, whose supporters rioted at the Capitol and who skipped the inauguration, was not mentioned.)

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Healthcare Heroes

Demi Lovato belted out a lively rendition of “Lovely Day” with the help of healthcare workers, who were seen signing and dancing along during the montage-style performance.

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The Bidens Boogy

President Biden, who is seen holding his grandson Beau (named after his late son), First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and other members of the family were seen dancing along inside the White House and then applauding loudly at the end of the performance, which then segued into the fireworks-filled closing number.

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Firework Finale

Katy Perry ended out the night singing her hit “Firework” with a grand display of actual fireworks lighting up the sky.

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