A guest commentary by William E. Ellis
I am an 81 year-old historian, having taught at the high school, junior college, and senior college levels, the last posting at Eastern Kentucky University for 29 years.
My major professors always warned about being “present-minded,” by placing or comparing current events into some older or broader context. I think at my age I have every right to compare two very vivid moments in history.
On December 7, 1941, Japanese naval forces successfully attacked the naval and air bases in Pearl Harbor. Kentucky-born Admiral Husband E. Kimmel was blamed for not having prepared for such an event. Much has been written about the incident, with some conspiracists claiming that President Franklin D. Roosevelt knew about the impending attack, using it as a pretext to join the war against the Axis Powers.
In his speech to Congress the next day Roosevelt called the attack one which “will live in infamy.”
As any Kentuckian who has taken American History in high school knows, the United States and its Allies fought valiantly to defeat the enemy. My father fought in the Philippines. Over 400,000 Americans died in that war. We were sure that the world was a better place with the overthrow of totalitarian regimes in Japan, Italy, and particularly Germany. All became post-war democracies. The world was a better, safer place. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and breakup of the USSR our hopes for world peace increased.
We Americans have always been divided over many issues, too numerous to list here. Though widely debated his having said so, at the conclusion of meetings that wrote the Constitution when asked “What do we have?” Benjamin Franklin replied: “A republic, if you can keep it.”
In my wildest dreams I would have never thought an attempted “coup” would occur in our Republic. However, it did on January 6, 2021. In a rally at the White House President Trump incited a crowd to defeat his enemies by overturning the presidential electoral ballot in his favor. The mob — there is no better term — marched up Pennsylvania Avenue, became increasingly loud, boisterous, then stormed the Capitol, knocking down guards. One policeman was beaten with an American flag staff. Another was hit with a fire extinguisher. One guard died.
Breaking windows, the insurrectionists stormed through doors, all the while taking pictures of themselves and their valiant cohorts. They pushed into the halls of Congress with flags a-flying, not a few in military style gear, defecated and urinated in the hallways, making a mockery of freedom of speech and action.
After the mob was dispersed, and the building cleaned and restored to a semblance of normality, the House of Representatives reconvened. The members who had so recently fled the rage of the mob continued with their sacred duty to complete their business, tally the electoral votes, and conclude the results of the 2020 presidential election. Undeterred even after the attack, many of the representatives who had fled the chamber, quaking in fear of the President’s raging horde, ignominiously still stuck with their hero, Donald John Trump.
Thank God there are still many people, including the majority of Congressmen, Senators, and other citizens of this “Republic,” who believe the nation is worth saving for future generations, especially after the second “Day of Infamy.”
It is my prayer that when my great-great-great-grandchildren read about the events of January 6, 2021, it will be seen as only a momentary setback in the history of this Republic, a time when a “clownish” politician abetted by “shills” seeking rewards, shamelessly took and then exited their thankfully brief moment in history.
God bless America!
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