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Sidwell Friends School's Student Newspaper Since 1974


Sidwell Friends School's Student Newspaper Since 1974


Sidwell Friends School's Student Newspaper Since 1974


“Field of Flags” Highlights Biden’s Inaugural Theme of Unity

Flags fly in place of crowds on Inauguration Day. Photo: Getty Images.

On Jan. 20, President Joe Biden took the oath of office before a unique art installation: hundreds of thousands of American flags. The flags took the place of the patriotic crowds that typically fill the National Mall on Inauguration Day.

In a normal year, the presidential inauguration brings people from all over the United States to Washington to celebrate a peaceful transfer of power and a new administration. However, due to the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing restrictive security measures in Washington, crowds simply were not possible.

To honor the people unable to attend Biden’s inauguration, Biden’s Presidential Inauguration Committee (PIC) created the flag art display. Almost 200,000 flags from every part of the country stood from the Capitol to the Washington Monument.

The display was part of the inauguration’s theme, “America United,” which echoed the newly sworn-in Commander-in-Chief ’s inaugural address. Fifty-six pillars of light, which represented the 50 states and six territories of the United States, illuminated the exhibit.

In line with the inaugural theme, the committee wanted individuals “to feel, no matter who they were and who they supported… that this was an installation that could be reflective of them,” PIC Deputy Director of Events and Ceremonies Adam Baron said.

“When you look at pictures of inaugurations in the past, you’ve got hundreds of thousands of people, but you also have hundreds of thousands of people from across the country waving flags, and that’s a big part of the imagery of what it looks like when you look down the Mall,” Baron said.

The creators encountered some difficulties while making the display. Their first challenge was finding such a large number of flags and bringing them to Washington.

The additional security measures and law enforcement officers also added complications. Baron noted that the crew working to install the flags intended to begin work on Jan. 6, the day the Capitol was stormed. Out of caution, they opted not to work in the days following the attack.

When brainstorming ideas for the display, the team wanted to keep everyone in a celebratory mood while prioritizing people’s safety amid political turmoil and viral outbreaks. The team also aimed to make sure that their display was not so overwhelmingly spectacular that it drew people to view it in person.

“While we wanted everyone to enjoy this installation, we wanted them to do it virtually,” Baron said. The team eventually wondered how large the Star-Spangled Banner could get: “It turns out that you can get a flag that is the size of a football field.”

Freshman Max Snow watched the inauguration ceremony from home: “I think the flags were a good idea this year. They looked patriotic and allowed people to stay safe and healthy at home.”

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Erica Lu '24
Erica Lu '24, Editor-in-Chief
Erica Lu is currently Editor-in-Chief of Horizon. She served as a Features Editor in the 2022-2023 school year. Prior to that, she worked as a Staff Writer for the newspaper.
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