President-elect Joe Biden will visit Arlington National Cemetery and lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as part of his inauguration ceremonies next week, despite security concerns surrounding the day’s events.
Officials from the Presidential Inaugural Committee said that the trip to Arlington — arguably one of the best-known military sites in America — is designed to “honor our men and women in uniform who paid the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our common values.” It will be one of Biden’s first official acts as commander-in-chief.
Biden is expected to be accompanied at the cemetery by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. All of their spouses are also expected to attend.
The inauguration ceremony, scheduled to be held on Jan. 20, has been scaled down from past celebrations because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. However, the attack on the Capitol building last week by rioters supporting President Donald Trump is expected to result in even more changes, to ensure the security of the incoming administration.
Five people died in the violence, which took place the same day members of Congress were scheduled to certify Biden’s victory in last fall’s presidential election.
Biden is still scheduled to take the oath of office at the Capitol building, in keeping with tradition.
Even with new security restrictions around Washington, D.C., officials from the inaugural committee are vowing to hold an event “showcasing the American people’s resilience, heroism, and unified commitment to coming together as a nation to heal and rebuild so that we emerge as the indomitable force that a united America represents.
Officials plan to install more than 191,000 flags on the National Mall for the event, representing “the American people who are unable to travel to Washington, D.C.” for the inauguration.
The Arlington cemetery visit is expected to take place shortly after the swearing in.
Biden has vowed that the care of veterans and military families will be major focal points of his time in office, and first lady Jill Biden is expected to revive the military-focused Joining Forces initiative she founded with Michelle Obama during Biden’s term as vice president.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.