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Nearly 200,000 Flags On National Mall Represent Those Who Cannot Attend Inauguration

Nearly 200,000 flags on the National Mall represent the thousands of people who cannot attend the inauguration because of the pandemic and tight security in the nation's capital.
Susan Walsh
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AFP via Getty Images
Nearly 200,000 flags on the National Mall represent the thousands of people who cannot attend the inauguration because of the pandemic and tight security in the nation's capital.

In lieu of the crowds of spectators that fill the National Mall for a typical inauguration, this year the iconic stretch of land will be filled with nearly 200,000 flags, representing the thousands of people who cannot attend because of the coronavirus pandemic and tight security in the nation's capital.

The National Mall is filled with decorative flags.
Stephanie Keith / Getty Images
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Getty Images

The art display represents all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and the five U.S. territories: American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The "Field of Flags" on the National Mall.
Timothy A. Clary / AFP via Getty Images
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AFP via Getty Images

According to a statement from President-elect Joe Biden's inaugural committee, the display reflects a "commitment to an inclusive and safe event that everyone can enjoy from their home." It is part of the inaugural theme of "America United."

Thousands of flags creating a "Field of Flags" are seen on the National Mall.
Eric Baradat / AFP via Getty Images
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AFP via Getty Images

At night, the "Field of Flags" installation will be lit up by 56 "pillars of light."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

The Washington Monument is surrounded by American flags on the National Mall.
Stephanie Keith / Getty Images
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Getty Images

Elissa Nadworny reports on all things college for NPR, following big stories like unprecedented enrollment declines, college affordability, the student debt crisis and workforce training. During the 2020-2021 academic year, she traveled to dozens of campuses to document what it was like to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic. Her work has won several awards including a 2020 Gracie Award for a story about student parents in college, a 2018 James Beard Award for a story about the Chinese-American population in the Mississippi Delta and a 2017 Edward R. Murrow Award for excellence in innovation.