An Unfortunate First

An Unfortunate First

Like many of you, I studied civics in 9th grade and American history in 11th grade. We were taught the history of the second war with England known as the War of 1812. Toward the end of that war, the British invaded Washington and burned a large portion of the Capitol building. Our teachers proudly said that other than isolated criminal acts, the Capitol had never been breached since.

We were taught that what separated America from nations that resort to violence to place people in power is that we have a revolution every four years by holding presidential elections to ratify or replace the office holder. The office doesn’t belong to a person, it belongs to a nation.

We heard phrases like “We are a nation of laws, not of men.” We were taught  mob rule resorting to violence did more harm than good and was an ineffective method to achieve goals.

The debacle of January 6 in Washington was foreshadowed by the armed intrusion into the Michigan state capitol by armed persons. It emboldened purveyors of violence to strike a bigger target. They came to the Capital square armed with pickaxes and weapons and infiltrated groups of rational protestors who meant no harm.

One woman died and protesters and police were injured during the breach of the Capitol building by our fellow citizens.

The Senate and House chambers were invaded for the first time in our history by people bent on violence for personal gratification failing to understand that our institutions belong to America not to a person.

In each chamber, a grinning invader of our space sat in the chair occupied by the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate. Those chairs are symbolic of our democracy. Those chairs were paid for by you and me and the blood of numerous soldiers in past and present wars. 

Violence begets violence. In any form and acted out by anyone, it must be contained.  And it starts with each one of us.