A Case for an Insurrection Day of Remembrance

 


Photo by Tyler Merbler | Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Tyler Merbler | Wikimedia Commons

On January 6, 202,1 at 6:01 pm, President Trump’s last tweet concluded with “Remember this day forever!”. As a Republican who re-registered as a Democrat during his presidency, I concur. Never in the nation’s history had the Capitol been overtaken by fellow Americans – not even during the Civil War. 

 

There are two transformational events in modern American history: the terrorism attack on September 11, 2001, and the insurrection on January 6, 2021. They defined a moment when the nation was at existential peril.

 

While the former president was not convicted, all 50 Senate Democrats and seven Republicans voted for conviction – just ten votes short of the required two-thirds majority. Following the acquittal, Republican Senate Minority Leader McConnell denounced Mr. Trump’s “unconscionable behavior” and held the former president responsible for “inspiration to lawlessness and violence.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called his actions the “most grievous constitutional crime ever committed by a president.” Republican Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina found that “the president promoted unfounded conspiracy theories to cast doubt on the integrity of a free and fair election” and “is guilty of inciting an insurrection against a coequal branch of government.”

 

During the insurrection, at least 149 officers of the Capitol Police and Metropolitan Police Department were injured. According to prevailing news reports, Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died injuries he sustained during the Capitol attack; however, new reporting complicates those accounts. Tragically, Jeffrey Smith, a D.C. Police Officer, and Capitol Police Officer Howard Liebengood both took their own lives in the weeks following the attack.

 

Some officers and Congresspersons who served in the military described the rioting as worse than combat in Afghanistan or Iraq. Marauders defiled, looted, and ransacked our symbol of democracy and stole or compromised sensitive materials. The insurrectionists diminished the nation’s standing and moral imperative around the globe.

“We properly planned for a mass demonstration with possible violence,” the former Capitol Police chief Steven A. Sund testified to a congressional committee. “What we got was a military-style, coordinated assault on my officers and a violent takeover of the Capitol building.”

 


Photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht | U.S. Air National Guard

Photo by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht | U.S. Air National Guard

 

Most egregious is the empirical threat January 6th posed to democracy, free and fair elections, peaceful transfers of power, and the potential of autocracy – a primordial threat that shaped the Constitution. It illuminated the toxic impact of internet misinformation, and more importantly, its capacity to carry over into blind action.

Congressman Jamie Raskin, lead impeachment manager is known for taking bipartisan colleagues to the U.S. Holocaust Museum to remind and teach “what happens when government gets it wrong.” With comparatively minor exceptions, over the 156 years since the Civil War, the nation has not had to deal with sedition and insurrectionists. January 6th reminds us of that peril. 

 

In 2001, the 107th Congress in a Joint Resolution designated September 11 as Patriot Day.  For the past 19 years, we recalled 9/11with national, state, and local remembrances. The 116th Congress by Joint Resolution should designate January 6th as Insurrection Day.

 

Benjamin Franklin is ascribed to have said when asked upon the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention, “Doctor, what have we got? A republic or monarchy?” Franklin presciently responded, “A republic if you can keep it”.

Should the duly elected Congress enshrine Insurrection Day, we will remember this day forever.

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