New Chapter in History
In my writings, I often enlighten you of a past memory by using my own life as a guide. I hope to bring you a smile or inform you of something you may not have known. I have shied away from many current events not wanting to engage in the politics of the day. I figure if you want to know the details of any events, they are as close as your cell phone. On cable news, you can watch as a long list of experts break down the day’s events. For the most part I have chosen to avoid those stories, leaving them for others.
This week, I decided I could not ignore recent events in our country. I realize there are those who will read this story and not share my opinions. And, no matter how profound or elegant my words, some may view last week’s events differently. But for me, I wanted history to know how I saw the events unfold and what I hope will be remembered. Perhaps the best way to help you understand is to tell you of past memories that shaped our country.
In 1963, I watched black and white television images of President Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas. I remember the sadness I felt as a young boy. President Kennedy’s death became a profound chapter in our country’s history as well as my own.
Ten years later I was wearing the uniform of my country. I watched images of prisoners of the Vietnam War come home. I knew that some of those returning would receive medical treatment where I worked. Our base clinic had already helped wounded soldiers returning home needing further treatment. I don’t remember if it was the television image or my job that so profoundly froze those pictures into my history of memories.
Many years later I remember when terrorists attacked our country. It was September 11, 2001. Televisions broadcasted live the terrible events of the day as they unfolded. Suddenly, all our lives changed by the events and the loss of life that day. That night as I closed my eyes, I could not get those images out of my mind.
Now, to last week’s events. The attack on our Capitol is a dark page in our country’s history. Images showing individuals laying siege into the Capitol are frozen in memories of that day. We saw on the faces of those entering, anger. How do we know? They posted pictures of themselves for the world to see, along with authorities.
As I watched the mob damage furniture, brake glass and tear down doors, I could not understand how they felt they had the right to destroy the people’s house. How does property destruction make things better is a mystery to me. It will not change anything. All it serves to do, is harden others against their position.
That day, Brian Sicknick a capitol police officer lost his life. He was 42 years old. He had a family that has to re-live that day every time a news program broadcast those violent images. Knowing cable news, they will reshow it many times. Unfortunately, I believe his death may only become a footnote in the day’s events. His tragic death will be lost in the finger pointing across the political divides. Investigations into how the protesters got inside the capitol will go on for months. Is not a police officer’s death a priority? We know among those inside that day, several had to witness his murder. Why have they not come forward in the name of justice for Officer Sicknick? Across this country, police officers put themselves in the line of fire every day. If an officer is accused in the performance of his duty, protestors find him guilty before facts are known. Murals are painted on walls showing those who were harmed. But where are the protests for justice in the death of Brian Sicknick. Where are the murals remembering his tragic loss of life?
Since the attack, politicians have lined up to condemn the actions of those who entered the Capitol. Fingers point at the President and others for instigating the day’s events. Will an investigation determine the events were pre-organized by outsiders? Only time will tell the full story.
I have learned in my lifetime, history written in the chaos of the day is often unclear in the fog of the moment. A truer story will emerge the further away we move from the event. But, it is clear that our Capitol was invaded and police tried to do their jobs. And for their efforts one of their own lost his life. Who is to blame? Harry S. Truman said when he was President, “The buck stops here.” I am listening for those words. Part of my Air Force basic training was a refresher class in civics. There are three separate branches in our government, executive, legislative and judicial. Our President is the executive branch. The instructors explained, Presidents and Congress are elected by the people. The founding fathers believed with three separate branches, there are checks and balances to maintain justice. And the most important check for our democracy, your vote. The point of the class, remember we were each now in the military. We were expected to respect and protect The Constitution along with the person who occupied the White House, no matter their political affiliation or policies.
In Washington D.C. today, on the steps of the Capitol, a new chapter in our country’s history will begin. Joseph R. Biden Jr. will be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States. He will take office with the support of 81 million voters. But, as he begins the process of his Presidency, he must also remember 74 million people voted for President Trump. That divide among the voters is still there and very real. A great many people are unhappy with the election. President Biden must work to overcome deep distrust on both sides.
In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln stood before a gathering in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He was there to dedicate the National Cemetery. Lincoln realized those men laid to rest there could not hear his words. But, a weary nation was listening as it struggled to survive its division. Brother against brother. Father against son. The great divide in the country was tearing it apart. Lincoln hoped his words would give the country hope in the final words of his speech. “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom-and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Our country was fundamentally divided as a nation as he spoke those words. The results of that division forever changed America. Let’s hope we have learned from past lessons. Today we have a new President, I would hope that each of us will respect his election by the people, as we begin a new chapter in America, as we look Through the Lens.