Yesterday, January 6, 2022, marked the first anniversary of the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol. Last night, I joined my friends, neighbors, and community partners for a "Day of Remembrance and Action" at Central Park in downtown Davis. The candlelight vigil gave us an opportunity to remember, highlighted the work that needs to be done to support our democracy, and called us all to action to demand policy change. I was honored to speak at the event. Here are the words I shared:
There are days stamped so deeply into our national consciousness that we need only mention them and a flood of emotion and memories are conjured. December 7, 1941; November 22, 1963; September 11, 2001. These days loom far larger than numbers on a calendar page.
Sadly, January 6, 2021 is now one of those dates. This day must live on in history. It is not simply a number on a page or a leaf on a tree.
It was a day when a mass of insurrectionists defiled the altar of our democracy. A phrase I think of often in these times is from The Federalist Papers -- "A BAD CAUSE SELDOM FAILS TO BETRAY ITSELF."
They came to a place where I have walked with my family, beholding the important monuments to the great moments in our nation's trajectory. I always walk with reverence in that place.
They came with hatchets, clubs, bear spray, tasers, guns, pikes, and makeshift weapons. They came with a gallows and a hangman’s noose. Many appeared disorganized, moved by the moment and the mob mentality -- though they all had been summoned. But far too many were fully equipped with tactical gear and acted with chilling and deliberate military precision.
People died. Many others at the site were injured. All those present, indeed all the nation and the world, were traumatized by the events of January 6, 2021.
All the while, the occupant of the White House sat watching as those he summoned laid waste to the people's house, desecrated it just as he had ripped the institutions of our democracy for four years. He and his sycophants and sponsors watched as the clockworks they set in motion played out to disrupt the ministerial counting of the election he had soundly lost.
A BAD CAUSE SELDOM FAILS TO BETRAY ITSELF.
We remember those images of people scaling the walls of that magnificent monument to our democracy. We remember the windows breaking and we remember the thugs chasing police officers through the halls, ransacking the offices assigned to the representatives of the people. We remember them milling about with blood lust in their eyes amidst the statues of the great figures of our nation's history. I recall my visits to Statuary Hall, savoring each minute and reflecting on the contributions of so many over the past 245 years and more.
We must remember.
And we must act.
The Senate must pass the Freedom to Vote Act to make sure we, the people, have access to elections. We cannot let this day be written into history as just one step along the way to the loss of this great American experiment.
We must refresh the fundamental principle of our founding documents that no person is above the law. We must support and implore the Senate to pass the Protecting our Democracy Act.
And not just for some of us, but for all of us. A chief lesson of history is that we don't learn from the lessons of history. We must implore the Senate to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act to stop the present slipping back to a time when people of color are denied the right to vote by a set of nefarious schemes.
History is not a disconnected series of random events. Each leaf on each branch of the tree is a part of a greater whole.
We do not yet know the full story of January 6, 2021 because we, the people, are still writing it. Let us remember that day and let us act to make that day only a cautionary memory.
Speech delivered by Don Saylor on January 6, 2022.
Posted to donsaylor.org on January 7, 2022.