Midway native Dr. Karla Sapp had a front row seat at the Jan. 20, inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
Dr, Sapp said she was invited by Congressman Earl “Buddy” Carter.
Sapp said she received a phone call the Friday before the inauguration from Carter’s District Director, Brooke Childers who is also a life-long friend as the two grew up in Liberty County and were frequent classmates.
She said she was able to coordinate travel plans with the help of Carter’s office and made arrangements with family she has in D.C. to stay overnight.
“I was completely floored that I was there,” DR. Sapp said. “I was humbled realizing, that of all the people who could have attended, who wanted to attend – I was there. I felt the weight of Liberty County on my shoulders but even more the weight of my family, especially my children and my parents and my grandson…it was one of those moments that where it’s very magical, very surreal.”
Carter said he’s known Dr. Sapp for quite some time ad admired the work she does as the Drug Abuse Program Coordinator for the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Carter said Dr. Sapp was the recipient of the 2020 Mental Health Advocate of the year award.
“I thought that was a great honor and she came to mind when we were putting together a list,” Carter said.
He said the Jan. 6 incident at the Capitol and the ongoing pandemic did concern him but being at an inauguration is a high honor and he didn’t want Dr. Sapp to miss out on such an opportunity.
“I wouldn’t have invited Dr. Sapp if I thought she was in any type of danger,” Carter said. “As it turns out…we were well protected with the National Guard troops there and Capitol Police and everything that had been put in place.
Carter explained that each member of Congress received an inauguration ticket and were allowed one guest. He said his seniority allowed them to be in the front row for the ceremony.
“I was honored that she was able to join us,” Carter said.
Dr. Sapp said being at the inauguration was an amazing experience.
“I’ve been trying to still find the words to be able to describe what it was like,” she said.
She added that having a front row seat during a historic moment is something she will never forget.
“To be able to see the first woman, the first South Asian as well as African American woman to be inaugurated, kind of just sent chills down my spine,” Dr. Sapp said. “To know that anything is possible for women, for little girls and to see how everyone was responsive to her being sworn in. There wasn’t a person that I don’t think wasn’t clapping when she finished which was just as epic to be able to see that.”
She said it was mindboggling to know that she was standing before the Capitol during an unprecedented inauguration while in the midst of a pandemic and two weeks after rioters stormed the Capitol.
“To be there in that moment, as it was happening, knowing that millions of people across our globe was watching because of just how important and historical this moment is for our United States,” Dr. Sapp said.
She said the Capitol was completely secured by the National Guard, Police and checkpoints, several of which she had to be cleared through to reach a meeting point with Carter.
Carter then had to personally escort her to their seats.
Dr. Sapp said National Mall was closed but they were able to look out and see National Mall and the decorations that had been put out in honor of the inaugural ceremonies.
She said she got several text messages as people saw her on TV.
“To know that I had a front row seat, that I wasn’t watching it at home on TV like I planned on doing…I am here, in this moment and people are seeing me in this moment…truly humbling and blessed experience,” she said.
After the inauguration Carter’s office released the following statement:
"President Trump spent the last four years fighting for our great nation. I thank him for his service, and I'm proud of what we accomplished. Today, Joe Biden was sworn in as President of the United States and the world witnessed the peaceful transition of power. Now more than ever, America needs unity to address the many challenges we face. To move our country forward, I am committed to finding common ground with the new administration while never wavering on my conservative principles. God bless America."