Forum: Jan. 6 should serve as annual reminder of Capitol attack

The events were ugly and disturbing but should serve as a testament to our democracy’s resilience.

By Jeremy Steiner / Herald Forum

On a brisk Monday in January, just days after the nation celebrated a new year, thousands of fellow Americans gathered together, broke into the U.S. Capitol Building and overtook one of the most historic landmarks of democratic government in the world.

Their goal was to stop the peaceful process of the traditional transition of power the nation was founded upon and embraced as an historic hallmark to American identity. The protestors’ awful assault and destructive demonstration failed, while leaving most Americans ashamed, shocked and embarrassed. After the attack, the Capitol lay calm again. Instead of defeat and election denial, democracy won and the electoral results certified.

Now with the House Jan. 6 committee’s hearings over, the transcripts reveal what many Americans already knew about the mob. Fromer adviser to President Trump Hope Hicks said of her colleagues: “We all look like domestic terrorists now.” In the aftermath, hundreds of American citizens who attacked their own Capitol were arrested, charged and sentenced, with some still awaiting trial.

The question now is how should we remember this dark day when democracy was denied its rightful role?

On the second anniversary of the Capitol attack some say we ought to ignore its importance by treating Jan. 6 as any other day. This week Donald Trump Jr. said the “vast, vast, vast majority of people arrested for J6 were basically tourists who thought it was OK to go inside and take selfies since the doors were open.”

A recent story in The Washington Post reported that visitors on official guided tours of the U.S. Capitol will find no reminder of that consequential day that left the country in crisis. Tour guides are told to avoid the topic and not mention Jan. 6 or related issues.

How misguided that this monument maintaining the memory and memorabilia of the nation is supposed to censor the very events that occurred within its walls. The Capitol houses hundreds of years of history, it was built, burned and rebuilt and features some of America’s finest art, statues and symbols. Most significantly it serves as the seat of the most important legislative branch in our nation. Hiding rather than highlighting an historic event because it’s deemed too controversial diminishes the purpose and point of everything the U.S. Capitol building represents.

Sometimes our history hurts; showing the scars of mistakes made centuries ago. But most of the work conducted in the Capitol attempts to correct the wrongs and make a more perfect union.

Many historic events in America are regularly remembered and traditionally retold — whether tragic or terrific — we recall the dramatic dates through somber reverence or as celebratory holidays of our heritage. Every year and in various locations, we mark the memory of these dramatic dates and pertinent places.

After foreign terrorists attacked the U.S. on 9/11, we rebuilt the buildings and constructed a memorial on the grounds. But when domestic terrorists assaulted the Capitol, chasing lawmakers, threatening to hang Vice President Mike Pence, destroying property and injuring more than 100 police officers, three of whom died in the days after the attack — we’re told to remain silent, ignore it and forget this infamous event.

Days after the attack, a YouGov poll showed that only 9 percent of Americans said they strongly or somewhat approved of the takeover. Thankfully a majority of the mainstream of our nation displayed their disapproval in the Big Lie during the midterm elections and sent a clear message that a return to normalcy was necessary and election denial should never again be mentioned.

Jeremy Steiner is executive producer for the nationally syndicated Michael Medved radio show and lives in Edmonds.

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