W-L students discuss Biden presidency

The+National+Guard+watches+over+President+Biden%27s+inauguration.+The+event+was+monitored+by+over+20%2C000+National+Guard+members+and+only+a+limited+number+of+people+were+able+to+attend.+

Erin Wills

The National Guard watches over President Biden’s inauguration. The event was monitored by over 20,000 National Guard members and only a limited number of people were able to attend.

In modern times the inauguration of a president is a grand affair. This is vastly different  from the first inaugurations, which were small and short events attended by very few people. So, why is there so much fanfare when neither of the other, equal, branches of government are given the same spectacle as the one surrounding the inauguration of a president? Presidential inaugurations are on a scale almost as high as the coronation of king or queen, with people traveling far and wide just to attend. Had it not been for a worldwide pandemic, this year’s inauguration would have been followed by several galas and parties. What is it about this event that catches the attention of the American people? What makes it so important?

“The presidency is such an important job for someone, and it’s just one person instead of many people, like how the Senate, House of Representatives and Supreme Court have many people in it rather than one,” Oakcrest School sophomore Meghan Kissinger said. “The president in some ways is a symbol of our country. If [people outside the United States] know the United States, they know [who] the president is.”

Meghan Kissinger is a Republican at a private school called Oakcrest, which is in-person five days a week. 

Sophomore Jillian McLeod, one of the co-presidents of the Young Democrats club, has been paying extremely close attention to the news of the election. 

“I wanted to see this very historical moment that felt so important,” McLeod said. “I was also interested because I’ve only lived through [roughly] four presidencies. I felt like this inauguration was the first one where I was going to be really present and understand what was happening, and it felt like something I was always going to remember.”

McLeod would have most likely gone to the inauguration if it weren’t for COVID-19. She felt the virtual inauguration was very special and she enjoyed being able to see a taste of President Joe Biden’s family. To her it felt like the integrity and heart of the White House had been restored.

This year, Arlington Public Schools students had Inauguration Day off. 

“It’s definitely a momentous occasion, and having the day off of school was the right decision,” McLeod said. “I was definitely engrossed in it the whole day yesterday [and] was watching it for as long as I could. I think that if we had school it would have been really hard to flip back and forth between school and the TV.”

This year’s inauguration looked a little different than usual. There were more than  20,000 National Guard troops to protect everyone at the Capitol and a limited number of people allowed at the inauguration.

Seeing as the United States is very divided by political views, it raises the question of whether the inauguration unites the country or further polarizes the country as can be seen in the lead up to the election.

“I think [the inauguration] unites people more than it divides, because it’s a pretty unifying [ceremony],” McLeod  said. “The inauguration is really just focused on the future and what this new president is going to do. So I definitely felt unification [watching the inauguration].”

Freshman Norah Kissinger, a Republican at Oakcrest School, agreed.

“I think it unites people, even though as a Republican we don’t believe what Biden stands for, we still accept he’s our president,” Norah Kissinger said. “In that way, we are all united.” 

Biden’s inauguration started off with a performance by Lady Gaga, who sang the National Anthem. Then there were performances by Jennifer Lopez , Garth Brooks, Amanda Gorman, the New Radicals, Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi and many more. 

“I think in some ways [the performances were] called for because we’ve just emerged out of just a really dark time, and it makes sense to celebrate with music and celebrities,” McLeod said.

During Biden’s speech he touched on uniting the country and wanting Americans to come together in common love.

“I think it depends on how you interpret it,” Elizabeth Schaaf, a freshman at Washington-Liberty said. “I really agree with the way [president] Biden talks about uniting our country, and I hope that happens.”

Students seem to view the new president differently and would share with him different words of advice. 

“I think I might just thank him,” McLeod said. “I just want him to know how much this means to me and everyone, because this is such a turning point. I really just appreciate what he stands for, and him leading the nation in a way that I think it should be led. I [also] just want them [the Biden administration] to understand how much I appreciate what they’re doing.”