On Wednesday, January 6, 2021, I stood at my office window overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue and watched the angry mob make its way from the Ellipse rally to Capitol Hill. Waving Confederate flags and Trump 2020 campaign banners, chanting “Stop the Steal,” “Four More Years,” and “USA, USA, USA,” these fellow Americans were on their way to disrupt a sacred ceremonial rite of transition in which the National Archives plays an important role. Having watched and listened to the charged language of the rally speeches, I was even more concerned as I watched this mob move by. They were on a mission.
My pride in the work that our Office of the Federal Register does in administering the Electoral College process was very much in my mind as was the role that we all play in defending and supporting the Constitution of the United States every day. And special pride in the role that our Agency plays in the orderly transition of administrations.
As my attention shifted to the televised Joint Session of Congress called to certify the vote, I was horrified to watch the storming of the Capitol and the increased agitation of the mob still streaming by our building. Not since 1814 have the hallowed halls of Congress been breached and those were foreign troops. Last week, our own countrymen invaded the Capitol.
With order restored, at 3:44 on Thursday morning, Congress certified the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the next President and Vice President of the United States. That morning from my office, as the sun warmed the limestone of buildings around us, I was reminded of the words attributed to Benjamin Franklin at the end of the Constitutional Convention when asked “…what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?” to which he responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.” That day we passed the latest test.