We had a prearranged visit with our son and his three children yesterday afternoon, leading to an early dinner. After morning work meetings, I started watching the Joint Session of Congress as they began certifying the election. We all know what happened once they got to Arizona and the subsequent storming of Congress.
I have visited Washington, DC many times. I had relatives nearby at various times and my sister Madeline has lived outside DC for years. I visit her a couple times a year. While our visits tend to not include the government sites, I have certainly seen them – as a child, and as a parent, taking our own kids. I also had the wonderful opportunity to work in the Capital as a news intern for The Hartford Courant, Connecticut’s major newspaper. Seeing rioters destroying media equipment added to my broken heart. I remember interviews with all members of the Connecticut delegation, regardless of party, all willingly answered my questions.
On all these visits, I remember the reverence, the feeling I was walking on sacred ground, where giants of history had tread, where our democracy’s laws are made. The architecture awes; the size alone could easily make one feel small and insignificant; instead, you feel that as a citizen, you are part of this structure dubbed, “The Peoples’ House.”
These memories returned while watching the chaos yesterday, cuddled up on the couch with the grands, and our dog. They have yet to visit Washington, DC, so what they know is from school and books. I’d love to take them to visit the inspiring, historic sites. Sadly, January 6th, 2021, will now have its place in history.
The scenes intrigued the children as we tried to explain what was occurring in a way not to either bore or frighten them. We answered their questions, satisfying their curiosity enough at least to take a break and walk to the park. Happy to be distracted for a bit, we all enjoyed watching enormous construction vehicles tearing up and re-tarring the street. Breathing in the dust and soot seemed almost cathartic– something normal on an abnormal day.
I thought of my parents, who had participated in many protests, including the March on Washington in 1963, and several anti- Vietnam war events. A few times while my kids were in school, my parents visited their classrooms to share their experiences. My father talked about it here: https://cyclingrandma.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/march-on-washington-my-fathers-reflections/
I talked to my father this am. He had watched the unraveling and destruction and had plenty of choice words to describe the perpetrators. In some ways, I’m happy my mother didn’t see this assualt on the country. She had always worked so hard for justice.
The good news– the election of two Democratic senators from Georgia– slumped to the bottom of the news feeds– yet can’t be overlooked. I wrote postcards. My sister wrote 1,000. My town wrote over 10,000. We can’t lose this momentum and passion for our democracy.
Let’s hope this ugly violence is behind us. Let’s hope we can unite as a nation.
Let’s hope. For your grandchildren and mine.