Historic Start to 2021

Julia Collins, News Editor

Each and every year of elementary, middle and high school, we have learned history –American, ancient, and world history — under the guidance of our teachers and our textbooks. But shortly after ringing in the new year, we watched history unfold before our eyes.

On January 6, 2021, as the U.S. Capitol was filled with every member of the Senate and the House of Representatives to vote on the electoral college, angry protesters stormed the iconic building. All eyes were on Washington D.C. as news cameras caught the frightening ordeal in real-time.

While many of our parents recall watching history when the first men landed on the moon, we got to watch our nation’s capitol being breached for the first time since the War of 1812.

Thousands of angry rioters stormed the building with frustration about the results of the 2020 presidential election. Supporters of President Trump believed there was fraudulent voting activity, so they broke into the Capitol to protest the electoral college voting.

When the infuriated protesters broke into the building, former Vice-President Pence and the entire Senate had to be whisked out of the chamber by security. According to reports, the elected officials “feared for their lives” and barricaded themselves in offices and secret tunnels for hours, until the rioters were subdued by police and National Guard units.

Prominent law enforcement officials around the country were shocked at the inadequate security measures in place, especially since officials had been warning about this protest for weeks, after monitoring social media posts on Facebook and right-wing sites like Parler.  In fact, rioters had been sharing pictures of their weapons and ammunition and announcing their plans on the Internet for weeks. There have been suspicions about whether or not members of Congress were involved in the storming of the Capitol. According to “The New York Times,” Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, said, “In order to serve here together, we must trust that people have respect for their oath of office, respect for this institution. If in fact it is found that members of Congress were accomplices to this insurrection — if they aided and abetted the crimes — there may have to be action taken beyond the Congress in terms of prosecution for that.”

Despite these warnings, the Capitol Police did not mount much of a threat to rioters and many across the country were shocked by the contrast in force and hostility that was shown to Black Lives Matters protests over the summer, in which there were many more arrests and a much stronger show of force by law enforcement.

As a result of the insurrection, former President Trump was impeached for the second time – the only President in U.S. history to be impeached twice — prior to completing his one term as president.

The Capitol attack capped off a tumultuous 2020 that saw nearly 400,000 Americans die from the COVID-19 virus and countless other catastrophes.

The FBI and other federal agencies have begun to identify and arrest the Capitol perpetrators to deter future attacks and bring to justice those who threatened the very core of our country’s democracy.

Two weeks to the day after the insurrection, Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States, in front of the very same Capitol building. Among the many firsts of this inauguration, the country heard the first ever National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, recite her poem when she said, “For while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us.” 

America has had many highs and lows but our generation must realize that we have witnessed history. We will be telling our children about what happened on January 6, 2021, and how it changed the country, forever.