A blight on America’s heritage
On Sept. 18, 1793, George Washington laid the cornerstone on the foundation of the U.S. Capitol that was under construction. For 228 years from that time, the Capitol has been revered by Americans as the cathedral of the nation’s commitment to democracy. Until Jan. 6, 2021, the desecration of that edifice by American citizens would have been unthinkable.
A common attribute of culturally advanced civilizations is to create architecturally distinguished buildings to house religious and political activities of special significance. These sites become hallowed by the people, who then protect them from being damaged or disrespected by their enemies. Much of the story of history is how advanced nations have opposed the aggression of lesser cultures.
A prime example of this is how the Catholic Church preserved its values with the commitment to maintain St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. When Constantine became the first Christian emperor of Rome in 306 A.D., he was concerned about the deterioration of St. Peter’s tomb. So Constantine began construction of a new St. Peter’s Basilica in 319 A.D. The project was not completed until 349 A.D,, 10 years after his death.
After about 1,000 years, the basilica Constantine built needed to be replaced, but its existence over this period of time helped to establish the Catholic Church. In 1506, Pope Julius II began the process of rebuilding St. Peter’s Basilica. This time, the work was so magnificent, with artwork from the greatest artists of the Renaissance, it took 120 years to complete.
While St. Peter’s Basilica, one of civilization’s great artistic treasures, was in the process of being created, the Romans had to contend with invasions from the more primitive Saracens, Goths and Vandals. Nonetheless, St. Peter’s Basilica emerged as the centerpiece of the Vatican and one of the world’s most significant Catholic cathedrals.
For Catholics in Paris, that designation would undoubtedly also apply to the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. When it caught fire in April 2019, the whole world lamented. Construction of the cathedral began in 1163 A.D., but it was not completed until 1345. It was commissioned by King Louis VII, as a symbol of the intellectual, economic and cultural power of France, and essentially, Paris.
For 350 years, Notre Dame Cathedral has been the historical center of French history. It was the site of significant weddings. Its presence assured Parisians that they are part of Europe’s history.
Across the channel, the British feel the same way about their Palace of Westminster, a huge building that now houses Parliament. It was once a residential palace, but after Henry VIII left for Whitehall in 1512, Westminster became the seat of British government — Commons Chamber was established in 1852 and Lords Chamber in 1847.
During World War II, the Germans were well aware of the British love for the Palace of Westminster. The Nazis tried to break the spirit of the British with constant air raids on their seat of government. Fortunately, that had the opposite effect. The Brits just increased their efforts to repair the damage and extinguish the fires.
The Americans who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 had a different frame of mind. They were prepared to smash doors and windows, as well as injure security police, in order to disrupt the process required by the nation’s Constitution. They showed no respect for their fellow citizens or for the U.S. Capitol that has provided the world’s leading symbol of democracy and the home for our nation’s legislature for 228 years.
This treasonous invasion is based on the unsupported claim from Donald Trump, a perennial liar, that fraudulent election results unfairly caused him to lose the election. According to the Washington Post, as president, Donald Trump made 30,573 false or misleading claims. He has filed numerous lawsuits to establish that the election was rigged, and he has lost all of them.
Thus, the rabble that attacked the U.S. Congress in session and desecrated the nation’s Capitol building, relying on unsupported evidence, demonstrated a limited capacity to assume responsibility for the grave decisions imposed on one of the world’s leading nations.
The American government has a profound responsibility to pursue and prosecute all those who participated in the violation of established laws that are designed to bring about peaceful change.