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The theme of President Joe Biden's Inauguration Day was that he will work hard to unify this very divided country ("End 'uncivil war,' " front page, Jan. 21). Wonderful — we are all looking forward to him doing what he can to bring that about. What is disturbing is the unspoken implication by him, the Democrats and, yes, the media, that the country's discord is the direct result of the actions of conservatives, President Donald Trump and especially the actions of the people who illegally entered the capitol building two weeks ago. Not once have I heard from anyone on the left — including the national media — that they played a big part in where we are today.

I cannot erase from my mind the image of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sitting at the State of the Union address with a sneer of hatred on her face directed toward her president. She could not bring herself to show one shred of respect for the man or the moment. When it was done she ripped up her copy of the speech and discarded it. No one questioned her disrespect and divisive behavior. I am willing to give this new administration a chance to make choices to try to end this "uncivil war," but I want to hear from Democrats that they share equally in the blame.

Kathy Bremer, Ceylon, Minn.
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I can't tell you how good it felt to wake up this morning knowing that there is someone sane and safe in the White House. And listening to Biden's words of unity on Wednesday, it really resonated with me that all of us do need to start seeing others as our neighbors again and not as adversaries. This is where true leadership has started taking us. It will probably take a while, but I think we'll be OK again.

David Miller, Mendota Heights


The event sent the right message

Like most Americans, I watched the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, as I have done for many of the previous inaugurations, on television. There was much discussion about the wisdom of holding the ceremony outdoors this year, and I am very thankful that the decision to carry on as usual was made. The ceremony looked much like it always has to those millions of us watching on TV. It was carried out without disruptions or obvious dangers. It sent a clear message that though our democracy was seriously threatened just two weeks ago, it still stands strong. It is reassuring that the continuity of our national traditions was maintained.

Nancy Beach, Minneapolis
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My heartfelt gratitude to all those who kept the inauguration on Wednesday safe and secure. The Capitol Police, D.C. Police, Secret Service, FBI and the National Guard contingents from all across the nation did a tremendous job of making sure our country had a transition of power that the Constitution demands. I didn't vote for Biden, but I'm thankful that this procedure worked as it was supposed to.

Neal Mason, Maple Grove
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In viewing Biden's inauguration and the concomitant transfer of power under very stressful conditions, we have witnessed its obvious importance to our democracy. I've come to realize how important the peaceful transfer of power is and feel it has been taken for granted for too long. Recent events have highlighted the huge importance of Election Day as well. We have long heard the call for Election Day becoming a federal holiday. I propose Election Day and Inauguration Day be so designated. The two most important events in the life of our democracy deserve this recognition. It is time.

Harald Eriksen, Brooklyn Park


A truly revered civil ceremony

My heart was warmed that Judge Donovan Frank took time from what I am certain is a very busy schedule to perform a private naturalization ceremony for Aung Myat and Bway Paw, thus fulfilling their dreams of becoming citizens of the United States ("Karen couple take oath privately to country they love as husband's health fails," Jan. 16).

I don't believe that most people born in this country realize how important becoming a citizen of the United States is to people immigrating here. I know that it was to my parents even though the process was somewhat challenging for them. We were given a booklet to study relating to American history and then went privately before a judge to answer questions pertaining to what we had read. Not having a great command of English at that time, it took a great deal of motivation and time for my parents to accomplish this. I was 11 at the time and it was somewhat easier for me, but I recall sitting before the judge in his chambers and thinking that something truly important was happening there.

As did my father, who proudly displayed the American flag on all our national holidays.

Ursula Krawczyk, Roseville


Trump was given a chance at being president. He was just awful at it.

"Give Biden the chance Trump never received" (Opinion Exchange) says the headline for a Jan. 20 commentary by Keith Burris. Yes, of course President Joe Biden should be given a chance. And, as Burris recounts, there is plenty of precedent for the losing party to relentlessly attack the winner from the moment he takes office. But that headline really sticks in my craw, because it reinforces the circular narrative of supporters of former President Donald Trump — that critics of Trump are deranged "haters" who are disqualified from commenting on Trump because they are so critical. This phenomenon can't be dismissed with glib "both-sides-ism." Even Richard Nixon never played the victim as operatically as Trump. And what makes it so dangerous is that it reinforces the Trumpian denial of facts and evidence.

The actual facts are: Most Democrats sincerely hoped that Trump would be changed by the office, that his campaign bluster was just that. But go back are reread his inauguration speech. Review the things he did and said in his first days. And then tell me — with a straight face — that the big problem with the Trump presidency is that we never gave the poor guy a chance.

Stephen Bubul, Minneapolis
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Interesting point of view from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Keith Burris about the treatment of Trump during his presidency and how he reacted. Well, my mother used to say that if you wear a sign that says "kick me," you shouldn't be surprised if you wind up with a boot print.

No one called Trump a "horseface" or his wife ugly or accused him of bleeding out of "whatever." All those gems came out of his mouth and pretty much were unprompted remarks.

The name of the game is politics — it's the same for everyone and it has very much to do with the ability to dish out and to take. To quote another former president, "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."

Frederic J. Anderson, Minneapolis
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On Wednesday's opinion pages, Burris argued that Trump was never given a chance to govern. Sorry, but even before the 2016 election he forfeited that right. Trump boasted that he would be able to commit sexual assault at will. Worse, he declared his willingness to subvert the democratic process, saying that he might not accept the results of the election if he lost — a preview of the unconstitutional and destructive actions in these final months of his presidency. Trump's inaugural address was frighteningly narcissistic and deliberately divisive. He immediately established himself as liar-in-chief with his clearly false claims about the size of the inauguration crowd.

Trump had every chance to govern; he simply blew it.

Fred Gaiser, Falcon Heights

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