Time to take a break from Education News and Ukraine to reflect on the most shameful day in U.S. history. We dare not forget, especially as the numbers of anti-democratic, neo-fascist, militant groups surface, and the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down reasonable restrictions on gun control.

In the last two years of Trump’s term in office, I followed him on Twitter. It was a usually horrifying experience to read whatever rant he posted at 6 a.m. But it was necessary, I thought, to be informed, to know what bizarre rages were percolating in his head, unfiltered by senior staff or caution. I recall the tweet he wrote when he said, “come to DC on January 6. Will be wild.” I knew something awful was brewing.

My television was on that day, and I watched his speech to his adoring throng and felt the sense of menace in the air. Like millions of others, I watched in horror as the mob attacked the thinly-guarded Capitol, broke through the lines, began attacking police officers, broke a window, stampeded the entrance, and climbed the walls of that august building.

I couldn’t help but think of the many times I had visited the Capitol to meet with an elected official or staff. Entry to the building is tightly guarded. Visitors wait patiently in line, waiting their turn to put their bags through a scanning machine, then to walk single file through a metal detector.

And here were hundreds or thousands of people streaming through the doors and the windows, or scaling the exterior walls, then running unimpeded through the halls.

I wrote that day, in a state of shock, about what I and millions of others had witnessed: “an attempted coup,” terrorism inspired by Trump.

The next day, as the dust settled, I wrote about what happened and about Trump’s failure to defend the Capitol:

As the rampage continued, Trump was silent. After a few hours of lawlessness, he released a video telling them to go home. He reiterated his lie that the election had been stolen. In the video, he also praised the crowd, who broke into the Capitol, trashed its elegant interior, ransacked the offices of members, terrorized fleeing elected, stole items from its rooms and posed for photographs in the legislative chambers. “We love you,” Trump said. “You’re very special.”

Yeah, very special thugs, looters, and terrorists.

It didn’t occur to me at the time that Trump’s loyal supporters would claim that the mob was created by Antifa and Black Lives Matter protesters. Why would Trump have told them that he loved them? Why would he have refused to send in help if he thought the mob was Antifa and BLM? Why would he say they were “special”? If he thought they were BLM and Antifa, I expect we would have seen a massive show of force, not silence.

It certainly didn’t occur to me that the Republican National Committee, to its eternal shame, would call the attack on the Capitol “legitimate political discourse.” Or that Republican members who rushed to safety and cowered in safe spaces would reflect on the day as just another protest or actually defend the insurrectionists as “patriots.”

On January 10, 2021, I wrote “Donald Trump Is a Traitor” and thought about what might have happened if the insurrectionists had succeeded.

What happened on January 6 was a failed coup. Many of Trump’s MAGA base joined the mob innocently.

But the mob was led by trained militia men, equipped to take hostages, prepared with flex cuffs, which police use to handcuff suspects.

The mob chanted “Hang Mike Pence.”

The mob knew the location of the secret Capitol offices of Democratic leaders.

They went looking for them.

Members of Congress exited the Chambers only a minute or two before the mob. If they had not escaped, there would have been mayhem.

The mob would have seized the leaders of Congress and VP Pence, handcuffed them, perhaps given them a show trial, perhaps executed them.

What then? Our democracy and our Constitution shredded. Would Trump declare himself President for Life?

What happened was terrifying. What might have happened would have been far, far worse.

Trump toadies are incorrigible. How to explain the members of Congress who emerged from their hiding place to vote to sustain Trump’s lies and to overturn a free and fair election? How to explain the perfidy of Senators Cruz and Hawley? How to explain the majority of House Republicans, who voted in support of a man who incited a coup against our democracy and our Constitution?

Now that I have watched the hearings of the January 6 Committee, I realize that the situation was even worse than I imagined on the day of the failed coup. I learned that Trump wanted to join the mob at the Capitol. Well, I’m sorry he didn’t, because there would now be no question about his culpability for inciting the insurrection, and he would be barred from ever seeking office again.

We learned that he watched the riot on television in his private dining room and did nothing to stop it for 187 minutes. He was hoping the mob would succeed and capture the Capitol. We know he did nothing to save the life of his Vice-President.

That led me to wonder: what if the mob had succeeded? There would have been no show trials. They would have executed Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi. They would have murdered AOC and the Squad. They would have murdered any member of Congress who stood in the way of their hero Trump. In the chaos, the mob might have murdered some of their Republican allies. Accidents happen.

We now know that the mob was only 40 feet from Pence as he fled. We now know that Officer Eugene Goodman lured the mob away from the floor of the Senate long enough for it to be evacuated. Even Republicans were terrified. We saw video of mob sympathizer Josh Hawley sprinting away from the insurrectionists whom he incited earlier with a raised fist.

January 6, 2021, was the worst day in American history. It was the only time that the seat of our government was attacked by our fellow Americans. It was a rebellion against the Constitution and the rule of law. If ever there was a Day of infamy, a Day of Shame, a day in which our Constitution and our democracy hung in the balance, it was January 6.

We must never forget.