In the last year, we have collectively experienced many historical moments, from frontline workers and other essential employees risking their lives to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and nearly 6.6 million Americans filing for unemployment to what some may consider the most divided election in American history.

Mount St. Joseph News

 

In the last year, we have collectively experienced many historical moments, from frontline workers and other essential employees risking their lives to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and nearly 6.6 million Americans filing for unemployment to what some may consider the most divided election in American history.

The sight of the new year brought hope and light; we had finally escaped the terrible year that was 2020, only for the hope and light to disappear some six days later. The events that occurred on Jan. 6, 2021, show how deeply divided our country truly is. It’s difficult to say that the Capitol's siege was not anticipated because of the rhetoric that was being used by President Donald Trump and his supporters of a fraudulent election and the need to “take back” the country. Regardless of Trump supporters’ threats for people to “get ready for the 6th,” D.C. police were anything but prepared for what was about to begin.

On Jan. 6 at 11 a.m., the Ellipse on the White House's south side begins to fill with Trump supporters. At 12 p.m., President Trump begins his hour-long “Save America” speech in which he states that he will never concede to such a fraudulent disgraceful election. He urges Vice President Mike Pence to have courage “do the right thing” and urges his supporters to march to the Capitol, for the integrity of our elections.

He states: “But we're going to try and give our Republicans, the weak ones because the strong ones don't need any of our help, we're going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.”

Among those who partook in the Capitol's storming were far right conspirators, including the Proud Boys, QAnon, Rise Above Movement, and neo-Nazis. The rioters carried Trump 2020 flags, Confederate flags, and Gadsden flags, and Swastika flags. Other symbols of hate present were shirts that saying “6MWE,” meaning “six million wasn’t enough,” referring to the number of Jewish people killed during the Holocaust, and “Work makes you free,” the infamous words written over the entrance to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland where at least 1.1 million people were killed.

Throughout the day, a noose and gallows were set up outside the Capitol; the rioters claimed they had intended to capture and assassinate elected officials. In an Instagram Live on Jan. 12, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) stated: “I can tell you that I had a very close encounter where I thought I was going to die.” She later went on to say, “I did not know if I was going to make it to the end of that day alive.”

Not even a year ago, I was in Washington D.C. for a class trip; we were given the opportunity to visit the Capitol Building. I remember very clearly walking into the monumental building past security guards carrying guns and wearing protective vests; I wondered under what circumstances such equipment would be necessary. I had an orange in my bag, which set off the alarm as my bag went through an x-ray machine, I felt my stomach drop out of worry, only for the officer to laugh and explain that he had to throw my orange away, but there were more in the café that I could purchase before our tour began. Not even a year ago, I walked peacefully through the halls of the Capitol and into the rotunda, taking in as much of it as possible. All of our country’s history and beauty were right in front of me.

I now very clearly see why the Capitol Building guards carried such heavy machinery; a year ago, I would never have even imagined such acts being committed in the United States Capitol, the most recognized symbol of democratic government in the world. But now, our beautiful Capitol has been stormed for the first time since 1814, when British troops set blaze to the building. Our Capitol has faced a historical insurrection filled with the darkest forms of hate. We cannot begin to heal as a country if we are so divided, and there is much to be fixed, especially after the hateful events that occurred on Jan. 6.

“Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love.” - Martin Luther King Jr., 1958

Featured in photo: Emily Lanter (second from left) at the Capitol.

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