While Inauguration Day 2021 may look like far different than what we've seen in the past, it still holds a very special place in the hearts of those who played integral parts in the political process.
Mark Arabo, of San Diego, worked on President-elect Joe Biden’s campaign and was supposed to be a guest at the inauguration, but security changes made in the wake of a failed insurrection at the U.S. Capitol changed everything.
"The journey has been an honor of my life time and truly thrilling,” Arabo said.
He volunteered early on in Biden’s campaign as a member of the finance committee. He even traveled to Iowa as a delegate at large.
“We had a virtual convention, but just to be able to vote for Joe Biden as our nominee, to get the swag and be a part of the process, was truly remarkable,” he said.
Last summer, Arabo and his family hosted Biden "the candidate" at their home.
“He talked about his family. He talked about the need to unite the country. We will cherish that day for the rest of our lives,” Arabo remembered.
The coronavirus pandemic led ceremony planners to cut down on Inauguration Day invites, but Arabo was among an exclusive chosen few.
“There were very few invitations sent out,” Arabo said. “I smiled for a long time. I showed my kids."
Then, on Jan. 6, a riot broke out at the U.S. Capitol just as Congress was voting to confirm Biden’s Electoral College win. President Trump-supporting Insurrectionists stormed the building, forcing Representatives and Senators to shelter in place. A Capitol Police officer was killed in the siege, as was a rioter from San Diego.
Concerns over continued violence on and leading up to Inauguration day led officials to mute the ceremony even further.
“They are discouraging everyone from attending,” Arabo said. “Even though we are not attending in our body, we should be celebrating as Americans. I will be there in spirit. I will definitely be here watching. It will just be a beautiful day in America."
For all that will be said of Wednesday’s inauguration; the transition of power, the divide in America and the challenges ahead, Arabo will forever have his part in the process to be proud of.
NBC 7 will have special Inauguration Day coverage beginning at 7 a.m. with the “Today Show.”