It was a dark day for America.
A year ago today, as Congress gathered to formally certify the electoral college results of the November election and recognize former Vice President Joe Biden as president-elect, tens of thousands of President Donald Trump's supporters gathered outside.
Most were there to peacefully protest. That's their right.
But then, as the House and Senate began debating challenges to the results from a number of GOP lawmakers, chaos. A mob of the president's supporters rioted, breaking through police security lines and storming the nation's Capitol. They broke windows and destroyed property. They took over offices and roamed the halls taking selfies.
One rioter was shot by Capitol Police and died. One Capitol Police officer was pepper-sprayed and suffered two strokes, He died, too. More than 138 law enforcement officers were injured. Four officers committed suicide in the aftermath.
The Capitol had to be evacuated. So did other nearby buildings, including the Library of Congress.
Washington's mayor imposed a 6 p.m. curfew. Finally, the mob was cleared from the building and Congress got back to work, certifying Biden's win in the early morning hours of the next day.
Since then our nation has been trying to find out what exactly happened Jan. 6, 2021. Looking for the "truth."
We wish we could say the search was all about the good of our country. We wish we could say that.
Our political leaders on one seemed to have made up their minds from day one and plan to use the "truth" for political gain. The other side seems to fear the "truth" might hurt them politically.
Our citizens, too, show the same inclinations. Those on the left have made up their minds and are determined to see President Trump hauled into court. Those on the right are steeped in denial and even delusion in their defense of the same man.
We should all be on the same page here. Find out what happened. Follow the facts no matter where they lead. Let the chips fall where they may. Let all responsible face the consequences.
Some out there are still calling these rioters "patriots." They are nothing of the kind. Patriots don't try to use force to interfere with our democratic process just because their candidate lost. That's what happens in third-world banana republics where might rules over law. These people were the polar opposite of patriots.
Some of these people knew exactly what they were doing. Others likely got caught up in the moment. And some, it must be said, were just gullible enough to buy into tales of conspiracies and election rigging. The courts seem to understand that. More than 600 have been charged with federal crimes small and large related to the insurrection. So far, at least 70 have been sentenced to terms ranging from home confinement for less serious offenses to several years in prison for those involved in violence. Dozens more have pleaded guilty and await their fate.
The storming of our nation's Capitol a year ago today was an unprecedented assault on the Constitution and Democracy in America. In the end, it failed. Our system held. Democracy won. We should be grateful. Because if a disgruntled mob ever succeeds in overturning an election by force, that's the end of the United States of America.