January 6, 2021, began as a day of hope. Raphael Warnock won his Georgia runoff race and Jon Ossoff was on the cusp of his victory. These two wins shift the power of the Senate and ensure that, at least for two years, Mitch McConnell will lose his ability to obstruct the new administration's ambitious goals.
It was also the day Congress was supposed to certify the Electoral College votes and officially declare Joseph R. Biden, Jr., our next president, and Kamala Harris our next vice president. The certification is largely ceremonial, usually a simple but important formality.
Of course, nothing was simple that day.
Like a lot of people, I'm still trying to process the terrorist attack on the Capitol. Carrying zip ties and hoisting a noose, it's clear the mob consisted of terrorists who planned to commit atrocious acts. Five people died, including a police officer, Brian Sicknick, who was bludgeoned with a fire extinguisher.
The barest of margins kept the lawmakers safe. Unarmed and alone, Capitol Officer Eugene Goodman is one of the reasons more did not die. The Black officer diverted a large group of terrorists, at least one carrying a Confederate flag, away from the Senate chamber and into a location with more police.
Associate chair of the Democratic National Committee, Jaime Harrison, later tweeted: “The word hero does not appropriately describe officer Eugene Goodman. His judgment & heroism may have saved our Republic.” Harrison called for Goodman to be considered for the congressional gold medal.
There are still so many questions about what happened that day. Who is ultimately responsible? How far did the planning go? It will be some time before we have answers.
But, along with 9/11, the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, January 6, 2021, will rank as one of the darkest days in living memory for our country.