‘It’s different today’
FDSH grad experiences Biden inauguration
WASHINGTON — Shelby Anderson Unkel wanted to witness history happen, so the 2005 Fort Dodge Senior High School graduate and her husband, Alan, decided on a whim to travel to the nation’s capital to watch President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris take their oaths of office.
“Going into it, I knew it was going to be historical, but to actually experience it, I don’t really have any words,” Unkel, who now lives in Cedar Rapids, said on Wednesday afternoon.
After a few moments of thought, she continued, “It was incredible, it was a beautiful moment and I’m just glad I was there for it. It obviously wasn’t how we wanted it to be, but it was amazing.”
Concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic meant that there weren’t any general admission tickets given out to Biden’s inauguration. Then on Jan. 6, armed pro-Trump insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol building, starting a riot, and causing authorities and organizers to ramp up security restrictions for the inauguration, so Unkel and her husband weren’t able to get very close to the main event.
The Unkels watched the livestream of the inauguration on their phones while standing with other Biden supporters in the Black Lives Matter Plaza just north of the White House. But when it came time for Biden to swear his oath and give his first address as commander- in-chief, an extensive speaker system allowed the couple to listen to it live.
While walking around in downtown Washington, DC, on Tuesday, Unkel remarked that the atmosphere was quiet and “eerie” on the day before the inauguration. By Wednesday afternoon, everything had changed.
“It’s different today, definitely different,” she said. “More people are out feeling, probably, a bit safer than they have been.”
Unkel said she felt that the area they were in wasn’t very packed, but it was a good crowd and the whole metro was starting to get busier.
“People, I feel like, can start to get back to their normal lives and that feels good to see that, just how it went from yesterday to today,” she said.