An update from Antonea, a junior majoring in communication studies and history:

On the eve of the Inauguration, we had the opportunity to see several of the monuments on the National Mall. While extraordinarily relevant to what we would experience in just hours at the Inauguration, what was most prevalent was the underlying theme of civil religion.

Unfortunately before this night, I had not been exposed to this idea until Dr. Schill explained the culmination of ideas, values and rituals that coalesced into what has been termed civil religion, or the expressions made by citizens of patriotism.

What struck me even more were the depth, sincerity, and grandeur that each monument carried – and while apart they told magnificent stories of America’s past, they also created a remarkable tapestry to reflect the inherent strength of the future of this country as well.

Particularly moving was the knowledge that as we made our own pilgrimage to the Lincoln Memorial and MLK Memorial; the next day, we would see the fruit of their sacrifice in another peaceful hallmark in the greatest democracy. The historical nature of this moment was not lost, and it is an experience no one on this trip will forget.