My generation has seen many terrible things. I think we lived in “Happy Days” until the assassinations started. Many say the day that President Kennedy was shot was the end not only of Camelot, but many of our hopes. It was a horrific day. So was the day Dr. Martin Luther King was shot.
We’ve lived through many other horrible days. 9/11 was one of the worst. January 6th also was one of the worst, but in a different way. There was no common enemy for us to unite against, except for other Americans. (I was horrified when Ivanka Trump called them patriots.) My generation is disturbed on a deep level.
I find my friends, family and I can’t sleep. We’re up at night reading, watching, trying to figure this out. How could this happen? Who are these people who were so viciously violent and knew how to surge and infiltrate? What are they going to do next? Why wasn’t the police force more prepared?
Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to tour the Capitol Building twice. In 2015, I was with my grandson who was an intern for Congresswoman Brownley in Washington D.C. One of his jobs was to take constituents on a tour of the Capitol Building. Before I could go, I had to have a thorough background check. The second time I toured was with my daughter and her two children in 2016. We all had to have background checks, even the three-year-old. We all waited in orderly lines to be admitted.
I love the Rotunda. It’s a beautiful structure and the statues are so inspiring. I thought about being there with my family as the domestic terrorists crashed through bent on destruction, vandalism and defacing our house, the people’s house. Their viciousness and their disregard for law and order made me sick, but I couldn’t stop watching the videos again and again. (I kept watching the videos of them surging forward, trampling some and ignoring the police officer who was being crushed.) It was not only an attack on America, but an atrocity against our way in life.
I haven’t been able to sleep or do much of anything. One night I went on Facebook when I’d given up on sleep. A lot of other people were up too, and we connected. A friend having cancer treatment at City of Hope hospital emailed me: It truly gave me so much to watch, like watching a Marvel comic movie, the good guys v. The bad guys! Another friend texted me at 1:00 AM, trying to go to sleep.
Yesterday I finally started answering phone calls from my friends. They felt the same way I did. The calls weren’t short or about our children and grandchildren. They were about what happened on Wednesday. We googled videos and watch them together. We talked about how this could happen. Where had the FBI been? Were the police complicit? Why did the people who railed against looters during the Black Lives Matter protests have nothing to say about the looters in our Capitol Building? We talked about the Camp Auschwitz T-shirt, and we looked it up online. (You can still buy one, but Amazon took down the Auschwitz Christmas tree ornaments last year.)
I talked to my brother. “My friends and I keep asking how this could happen?” I said.
“Are you serious? The racism, anti-Semitism, the frustration has been building for years,” he said.
I talked to my sister and we commiserated as if a loved one had died.
How do we pick up the pieces? On Wednesday morning, I had told our nine-year-old granddaughter that she could feel safe to sleep in her own bed now. “Things are going to be safe now with President Biden. We’ll have rule of law,” I said. Well, I was sure wrong.
Last night we didn’t even make a pretext of going to bed–we were both still charged with anxiety about the events. We were lucky to have a thunder and lightning storm. No way could we have slept through the flashes of lightning and the long, ominous rolls of thunder. I understood why the ancients believed that powerful gods lived in the skies. It was tempting to believe, even today, that they were angry with what has happened.
In any case, we welcomed the storm. It suited our state of mind.