THE FACTS: Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration was official and he is the 46th president of the United States. Differences between Biden’s ceremony at the Arlington National Cemetery and other presidential wreath-laying ceremonies in the past can be attributed to cold weather and coronavirus precautions, according to Shaunteh Kelly, chief of media relations for the U.S. Army Military District of Washington.
The video titled “The Inauguration Deception” falsely claims that minor differences between the videos are proof Biden’s presidency is illegitimate.
“I was looking at Biden’s inauguration again and I noticed none of the military had any ranks or honors on their jackets,” the narrator says in the video.
It’s true that the soldiers wore different jackets in Biden’s ceremony than in the other ceremonies. However, there’s no nefarious reason for that. Instead, it’s because the clips of former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama show them participating in wreath-laying ceremonies on warmer days — on Memorial Day in 2003 and Veterans Day in 2012, respectively — while Biden’s ceremony took place on a cold day in January 2021.
“Per Army Regulation AR 670-1, awards and accommodations are authorized on ceremonial blouse but not on ceremonial overcoats or raincoats,” Kelly said.
President Donald Trump’s ceremony in the video took place on Jan. 19, 2017, and military awards and accommodations were visible. That’s because the weather in Washington on that sunny day “did not warrant ceremonial overcoats,” according to Kelly.
The narrator in the video also identifies differences in the ceremonial proceedings. For example, while Bush, Obama and Trump walked with a soldier to place the wreath on its stand, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris did not, only stepping up to the wreath once it was already in place. That’s because the ceremonial proceedings were changed to accommodate COVID-19 precautions.
“Bush, Obama and Trump’s wreath ceremonies captured in the video clips were all conducted prior to COVID-19,” Kelly said. “Since the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Army Military District of Washington has eliminated the wreath bearer’s movement position to adhere to CDC safety measures and physical distancing standards.”
Footage of Trump participating in a wreath-laying ceremony during the pandemic, on Veterans Day in 2020, shows he followed the same precautions.
The narrator also claims that Biden and Harris walking into the ceremony from the left was a break from the norm, but archival footage shows Bush and Obama walked in the same way.
Finally, the narrator points out that Bush, Obama and their fellow former President Bill Clinton attended Biden’s ceremony. He suggests the presence of so many past presidents at the ceremony is a cause for suspicion. Not so, according to Kelly, who explained the former presidents were “invited guests of President Biden.”
— Ali Swenson