Mooresville HS grad shares emotions of carrying Navy flag at Biden inauguration

WASHINGTON (WISH) — While some of the country’s biggest names were at Wednesday’s inauguration of President Joe Biden, there was also a local face behind a flag.

Seaman Ethan Prilliman graduated from Mooresville High School in 2019 and, two weeks later, headed out to boot camp. Prilliman is now stationed at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C.

Photo courtesy Seaman Ethan Prilliman

“We had been briefed that we were going to be part of it for a while but we didn’t know which roles we were ever going to be a part of. And, I didn’t find out I was going to be the Navy colors bearer until about two weeks ago. And, I honestly thought my buddies were just joking around with me saying that I was going to do that,” Prilliman said.

Prilliman was shocked to find out his friends were in fact not messing with him.

“When we carry the Navy flag we are representing the whole Navy when we do that. It is not just our command the ceremony of the guard, it is the Navy in general,” Prilliman said.

Prilliman holding the Navy flag outside of the Capitol (Photo courtesy Ethan Prilliman)

He was understandably nervous. “I am not going to lie; it was kind of nerve-racking knowing who all is going to be there, what we need to do, how many people are going to be watching … of course, the whole country,” he said.

The whole country included his family who he hasn’t seen in person since June.

“I am not going to lie, my mom cried,” Prilliman said. “All my family saw me on TV. My sister even had it going on at her work.”

Prilliman with his mom and dad (Photo courtesy Ethan Prilliman)

He says he did have a moment when he realized he was in the likes of the most powerful people in the country during a moment that will be written about in history books.

“When we got out there in front of everybody that is when it all hit me: ‘Oh, that is a lot of people,’” Prilliman said.

When he finally got a moment to breathe and take in the momentous occasion, he says he could feel a shift.

“You could feel a lot of positivity from it. With all the negativity that has been going on it our country, all the separation and all the friction, you just feel like people were just happy. There is change coming, and people understood that.”

While it is not something he ever thought he would do when joining the Navy, the significance of this experience is not lost on him, “I am only 20 years old and for someone to say at 20 to have been at the inauguration to represent their country and their entire branch in the military, there is not very many people who can say that.”