Jan 18, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Empire State Building among hundreds to light up in Biden inauguration tribute

: Th Empire State Building sits behind the Statue of Liberty in New York City as it continues to honor COVID-19 healthcare workers by being lit in red on May 3, 2020 in Bayonne, New Jersey
New York City's Empire State Building is lit up red to honor healthcare workers during the pandemic in May. Photo: Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

New York City's Empire State Building will be among hundreds of landmarks and buildings to light up across the U.S. on the eve of Joe Biden's inauguration to honor the nearly 400,000 American lives lost to COVID-19.

Driving the news: Tuesday's event is one of several planned by the Presidential Inaugural Committee to mark the occasion while avoiding crowds gathering in Washington, D.C., during the pandemic.

What to expect: In his first event after arriving in Washington, D.C., Biden will lead the "national moment of unity" from the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, which will be illuminated with 400 lights from 5:30pm, according to a statement emailed to Axios by the Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC).

  • Other places to light up for the tribute to coronavirus victims include Seattle's Space Needle in Seattle, buildings in Las Vegas, Miami, Houston and Chicago and tribal lands throughout the nation.
  • In Washington, D.C., Biden will be joined by incoming first lady Jill Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and incoming second gentleman Doug Emhoff.
  • Cardinal Wilton Gregory, Archbishop of Washington will deliver the invocation, while gospel singer Yolanda Adams will sing "Hallelujah" and Lori Marie Key, a nurse from Michigan, will sing "Amazing Grace."

What they're saying: PIC CEO Tony Allen said in an emailed statement that the inauguration "represents the beginning of a new national journey — one that renews its commitment to honor its fallen and rise toward greater heights in their honor."

  • "In that spirit, it is important that we pay tribute to those we have lost — and their families — and come together to unite our country, contain this virus, and rebuild our nation," Allen added.

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