Joe Biden Cites 'American Anthem' In His Inaugural Address, Asking 'What Shall Be Our Legacy?'

Joe Biden cited lyrics to the tune "American Anthem" in his Inaugural address, and asked Americans "what shall be our legacy" after delivering a powerful address to the nation after being sworn in as the 46th President of the United States.

That particular piece of music has been tied to the world of politics since it was first premiered at the Smithsonian Institution's unveiling ceremony for the restored "Star-Spangled Banner" flag in 1999, as reported by NPR. Mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves sang it during that particular event. It was performed during two presidential inaugurations for both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

The song was written by Gene Scheer. The lyricist said he was inspired to write the words in 1998 while reading a book titled "The Miracle in Philadelphia" about the creation of the U.S. Constitution, according to the website Deseret. Scheer shared that the tune had been performed by Denyce Graves, Nathan Gunn, and Norah Jones. It was also used in Ken Burns' PBS film The War about WWII.

The website reported that Burns claimed he first heard the song while driving home from his father's funeral and that it made him weep.

The lyrics of the song speak about all those who came before and the dream of a nation.

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers his inaugural address on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Getty Images | Drew Angerer

The words cited by President Joe Biden in his inaugural speech contained a heartfelt message.

"The dream of a nation where freedom would endure. The works and prayers of centuries have brought us to this place. What shall be our legacy? What will our children say? Let them say of me, I am one who believes in sharing the blessings I receive. Let me know in my heart when my days are through, America, I gave my best to you."
Other key moments in Biden's address to his constituents included a message of unity for all citizens of the United States.

Biden said that speaking of unity could sound like a "foolish fantasy" and added that he knew the forces that divided were deep and real, as reported by NBC. He said that American history had been a constant struggle between the American ideal that all are created equal and the harsh ugly reality of racism, nativism, fear, demonization.

The 46th president said this was America's "historic moment of crisis and challenge" and that unity was the path forward.

Biden also asked for Americans to end this uncivil war that pitted red against blue, rural versus urban, and conservative versus liberal. He suggested that this could be done if souls were opened instead of hardening hearts.