The inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, which will take place amid a devastating pandemic and war zone-like security levels, will look strikingly different from anything the nation has seen before.
Close to 200,000 flags stand in the National Mall ahead of Wednesday’s event in Washington, D.C. The display is intended to honor the nearly 400,000 people who have died in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as those unable to attend in person.
Normally, hundreds of thousands of people would flock to the Capitol for Inauguration Day. The festivities will be dramatically pared back to limit the spread of the virus and following the Jan. 6 insurrection on the Capitol by rioters seeking to overturn election results, thousands of National Guard troops guard the capital’s streets and landmarks. The National Mall is closed, and fences have gone up around the Capitol and White House.
The flag display lit up Monday night with 56 pillars of light, symbolizing every U.S. state and territory. The “America United” theme will follow the message Biden campaigned on, calling for unity amidst some of the nation’s most divided times in modern history.