Martin Luther King Jr. Day won’t be the same next week, neither will Inauguration Day two days later on Jan. 20.
Ordinarily on both days, Americans pour into the nation’s capital to see with their own eyes and hear with their own ears the swearing-in of our new president and vice president, and visit one of the National Mall’s newest landmarks.
Not going to happen this year — a far cry from the unprecedented marches in snow, cold and inclement weather to make MLK’s birthday a federal holiday.
First, COVID-19 began sweeping the globe in early 2020, leaving practically every commercial and retail establishment shutdown but cellphones, internet connections and grocery stores.
Hospitals and health care facilities are still teetering.
Then, after walking back in-person schooling and student-athleticism, parents are still begging the question: What are governments doing with my tax dollars?
The short answer is whatever they want — but not on what you think.
You can’t visit the monuments and memorials on the Mall because federal authorities fear the spread of COVID-19, mostly by people who refuse to mask up and protect themselves and others.
And mostly because after huge gatherings — like the looting and violent protests this summer — left virus-laden residues in their wake.
And it certainly didn’t help that hell-raisers bent on fighting the election results Wednesday in the U.S. Capitol linger about from dozens of arrests.
Just imagine the evidence gathering and virus cleanups still underway.
Tsk, tsk, tsk.
As for public safety precautions, suffice it to say next week is going to truly be an all-hands-on-deck kinda week.
Not only is D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser asking residents and visitors to steer clear of the nation’s capital and the nation’s Capitol, but so are the governors of Maryland and Virginia.
The so-called National Special Security Event period will run from Monday, Jan. 11, to Sunday, Jan. 24, and Miss Bowser said this is an increase from the current period from Jan. 19 to Jan. 21 to allow for improved federal and D.C. government preparation for inauguration preparation.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said: “We have already 500 guard members in the city I think we’re going to be increasing several hundred more guard members.”
Meanwhile, federal authorities are preparing for 15,000 National Guard troops.
Nonpartisan peace makers, eh?
No Mall visitations.
Will the MLK memorial still be standing by week’s end?
No open public bleachers for viewing the inaugural swearing-in and walk to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Like the kids’ schooling, everything this year is virtual.
Does that mean your eyes really saw what happened and ears heard the truth?
Only time will tell during the extraordinary double COVID-19 shutdown.
Talk about unprecedented.
• Deborah Simmons can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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