Riots at the United States Capitol

Two years into the War of 1812, British troops set fire to Washington, D.C. buildings, devastating both the Capitol building and the White House.  Known as the Burning of Washington, this had been the first and only attack on the United States capital.  For the next 207 years, our nation suffered through numerous military conflicts, including the Civil War between the Union and Confederate factions of our own country.   Yet, peace in Washington D.C. had always been preserved and the Capitol building, where elected officials meet to represent the American people, only grew as a symbol of American democracy.

On January 6th, 2021, however, this preservation of peace was broken.  And this time, the attack on the Capitol came from within our own borders.  

Despite numerous court cases and Republican Attorney General William Barr refuting the claim, a large percentage of Americans believed that a fair election was not carried out and Joe Biden did not win the presidency.  As a mob of pro-Trump rioters stormed Capitol Hill in an attempt to stop the Electoral College certification, the rest of America, and the world, watched in disbelief.  This unprecedented event not only resulted in five dead, but also left a potentially fatal wound in American democracy.

Among the thousands of rioters were several white supremacist groups, many of whom brandished racist and antisemitic propaganda.  Americans watching at home were struck by numerous unsettling images, including a Confederate flag being waved inside the Capitol and rioters wearing Nazi symbols.  “Go home, we love you,” Trump told these insurrectionists as they rushed inside the Senate chamber, “You’re very special.”

This event has heightened tensions in an already severely divided nation.  Millions, including many Republican government officials, continue to claim the election was “stolen.”  Some assert that alleged voter fraud in certain states was never fully investigated.  Others believe the dialogue and positions taken by Donald Trump were a source of inspiration for the insurrection.  The House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump during the last days of his presidency and a Senate trial awaits.  No other president has been impeached twice, nor have impeachment trials ever occurred after a president has left office.

Although the inauguration of Joe Biden has recently passed, a sense of uncertainty continues to sweep our nation.  While we will soon find out if two-thirds of the Senate will vote to convict Donald Trump on the charges that he contributed to the Capitol attack, only time will tell if our nation can reunify to ensure an event like January 6th does not occur again.