Some 191,500 flags are standing in place of the Americans who can't attend President-elect Joe Biden's inaugural ceremonies

By Virginia Chamlee
January 19, 2021 01:45 PM
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Credit: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty

As the nation's capital prepares for the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, a sea of flags has filled the mall, a poignant scene that represents the crowds who will be unable to attend the ceremonies due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Presidential Inaugural Committee installed "Field of Flags," a large public art display featuring roughly 191,500 of American and state flags, covering the National Mall as a representation of the American people who are unable to travel to Washington, D.C. this year.

The flags also served as a fundraiser, with contributions going toward the Presidential Inaugural Committee's nonprofit partners including Student Veterans of America and the LGBTQ+ housing group Stonewall Community Development Corporation.

This year's inaugural events span five days and also include a lighting ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool to honor those killed by COVID-19, which will be held Tuesday evening as a way "to memorialize American lives lost," the Presidential Inaugural Committee said

Credit: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty

The president-elect and vice president-elect are set to be inaugurated on Wednesday in an unprecedented ceremony, held amid the ongoing global health pandemic and in the wake of a deadly mob on the U.S. Capitol.

A series of events will be held on Jan. 20, including what the inaugural team is calling the "capstone:" a primetime television special hosted by Tom Hanks, and featuring performances by Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi and Demi Lovato.

Both Biden and Harris will participate in the traditional swearing-in at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, with the in-person ceremony being massively scaled back due to increased security measures following the riots.

No members of the public will be able to attend the swearing-in, with tickets limited to two for each member of Congress, according to the Joint Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.

Credit: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty

While President Donald Trump will not be in attendance (he's set to fly out of D.C. on Wednesday morning), former Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and President George W. Bush are expected to attend the inauguration along with former First Ladies Michelle Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Laura Bush.

Also on Wednesday, Biden, Harris and their spouses will conduct a traditional "Pass in Review," a review of military troops meant to reflect the peaceful transfer of power, followed by a trip to the Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, according to the inaugural committee. 

Biden will also receive an in-person presidential escort from 15th Street to the White House, which will feature every branch of the military.

The bulk of the inaugural programming this year will be virtual, and includes a televised virtual parade set to feature "diverse, dynamic performances in communities across the country." 

The events will culminate in the Hanks-hosted "Celebrating America" special on Wednesday evening.