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Beyer: Insurrection failed because of actions of heroes in uniform

Don Beyer
Don Beyer

One year ago today insurrectionists launched a violent assault on the home of American democracy.

The crowd that attacked the Capitol included white supremacists and violent rightwing paramilitary groups. They constructed a gallows, and called for the assassination of the Vice President and the Speaker of the House. Incited by the Big Lie of a lawless President bent on retaining power at any cost – a fact we know is true because the insurrectionists themselves repeatedly confirmed it – they hoped to halt the peaceful transfer of power and overturn the results of an American election. They failed.

They failed because of the courageous actions of heroes in uniform, many of whom have not fully recovered from the significant injuries they suffered that day. Some of them lost their lives. Today we remember the pain and suffering inflicted on those who defended the Capitol, and their incredible heroism. We remember USCP Officers Brian Sicknick and Howie Liebengood and MPD Officers Jeffrey Smith, Kyle DeFreytag, and Gunther Hashida, and the anguish their families still feel.

Donald Trump and his insurrectionists also failed because of our collective determination that democracy must prevail. Congress’ return to the House Chamber that night to finish the work of certifying the election results ensured that the will of the people would win the day. It was a pivotal moment in our nation’s history.

But that night also foreshadowed what would follow. Radicalized Republicans took the floor to spread the lie that ‘Antifa’ or ‘leftists’ had staged a false flag attack, just hours after several of them helped incite the crowd that marched on the Capitol. Two thirds of House Republicans voted against certifying the election results, including their party leaders. They justified their votes with thinly disguised versions of the same Big Lie cherished by the insurrectionists.

In the months that followed, many Republicans became bolder in spreading lies about what happened on January 6th, even as they opposed the creation of a bipartisan commission to establish the truth. Donald Trump’s malign influence spread in statehouses across the country, where legislators wrote laws empowering state officials to overturn the will of the voters. Voter suppression laws proliferated while Senate Republicans blocked action to protect Americans’ voter rights.

Over the past year, the House has worked to right these wrongs. We created a Select Committee to investigate the January 6th attack and establish the truth. We passed bills to ensure that Americans can vote, and that their votes determine who leads this country. It is vital that the Senate take the actions necessary to enact these reforms. Protecting our elections is vastly more important than arcane rules and procedural precedents. My Senate colleagues must remember the crucial lesson of January 6th: democracy must prevail.

Finally, on this anniversary I send my best wishes, support, and love to the Capitol Hill community and the D.C. region. The aftershocks of trauma and heartbreak of January 6, 2021 are ever-present for many, and this will surely be a difficult day. Let us take care of each other, be unafraid to ask for help when we need it, and go forward together in the knowledge that none of us are alone.

Don Beyer represents Virginia’s Eighth District in the U.S. House of Representatives.


augusta free press
augusta free press