On Jan. 6, every TV channel was a bearer of bad news. The world of politics was quite an unsettling place shortly after the ringing in of 2021 due to historic events that took place on that Wednesday afternoon. Despite hope for a better year and a brighter future, domestic terrorists raided the Capitol and breached national security after being riled up about taking back the election per encouragement from former President Donald Trump. No, believe it or not, this is not a new dystopian novel; it’s not a trailer for a fifth Hunger Games movie. This is America.
It seemed as if the entire world came to a standstill as every news outlet nationwide was reporting live on the attack on the United States Capitol.
“I was actually watching it with my husband and we were in shock,” social studies teacher, Jaclyn Ekhoff, said. “I cried a couple of times. I think I even said, ‘Someone’s gonna die, someone’s gonna get killed, this looks like it’s going to get completely out of hand.’ Seeing the Confederate flag walked through the Rotunda was heartbreaking; seeing the Nazi flag was heartbreaking.”
The extremities of this event have never before been witnessed or experienced. No matter the political differences that vary from person to person, one thing we all had in common on that remarkable day was that we were living through a horrific event for the first time. Together. While this came as a surprise to many, others would consider this event a long time coming due to the leadership–or lack thereof– these past four years.
“A guy lost an election, and lied about it for the last two months and people believed him,” physical education teacher and head girls basketball coach, Mike Willahan, said. “I really do believe [the rioters] had every intention of capturing and doing harm to certain people, whether it was Vice President Pence, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer; you don’t bring in zip ties and the things that they had on them just to get information or take pictures.”
The unforeseen events that took place at the Capitol not only had a monumental impact on that one day, but on the future of America–and the past. Jan. 6 was a day of utmost disrespect towards our democracy; terrorists disregarded the history, the building blocks of this country.
“This is something that I’ll be talking about as a U.S. history teacher for years to come,” Ekhoff said. “It truly almost dismantled our democracy.”
The Capitol riots concluded Trump’s one-term presidency, as he became the first president in history to be impeached for a second time. The light at the end of this dark, four-year tunnel then arrived shortly after on Jan. 20, 2021.
A day of hope.
A day of renewal.
A day all of America was in dire need of.
From President Joe Biden’s inauguration speech to the dominant female presence to iconic fashion choices to a young poet’s wise words, America on Jan. 20 was not the same America that was suffering only a few weeks prior. The world saw the United States Capitol through different lenses during the Presidential Inauguration–rather than the terrorism, tragedy and death that took place on the same steps on the sixth of January. America is finally in the hands of leaders able and ready to deliver their promise to our country.
“I have a lot of hope for the future,” Ekhoff said. “I’m all for uniting , but first is accountability, and then, we really have to start teaching people fact from opinion. I think we need to have a very serious reckoning here in America on what fake media actually is and how to go about understanding biases and differences and doing so in a way that is meant to heal.”
President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have a taxing job ahead of them to begin with: the pressure is also on them to undo the brokenness that America has endured these past four years. Their workload is anything but light, but they let not a second go to waste before getting to work. Only hours after the inauguration, the Biden administration “issued a mask and social distance mandate, suspended student loan repayments until September, rejoined the World Health Organization and Paris Climate Accord, put a temporary moratorium on oil and gas leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, reversed Trump’s ban on diversity training at federal agencies and federal contractors,” and the list continues.
“[The inauguration] was an incredible day, an incredible night and I was relieved,” Willahan said. “I see brighter days ahead.”