House Democrats propose designating Jan. 6 as annual 'Democracy Day'

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Congressional Democrats want to make the observance of the 2021 U.S. Capitol riot an annual event.

Democratic Reps. Dean Phillips of Minnesota and Jason Crow of Colorado said they have introduced legislation to designate permanently Jan. 6 as “Democracy Day” to “ensure the lessons of the January 6th assault are not forgotten.”

“Future generations can never forget the actions that took place in the U.S. Capitol one year ago and the bravery required to preserve our democracy,” said Mr. Phillips in a press release. “I am leading this resolution to designate January 6th as ‘Democracy Day’ so that the American people never forget how fragile our democracy is and the vigilance required to maintain it.”

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New York Democratic state legislators also announced plans to bring a “Democracy Day” bill making Jan. 6 an “annual day of commemoration.”

More than 700 people have been charged in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot that saw a pro-Trump mob ransack the Capitol as Congress sought to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election. One protester died as a direct result of the melee after being shot by Capitol police, and 140 officers were injured.

“I saw with my own eyes just how close we came to losing our democracy,” said Mr. Crow. “As we reflect on the one-year anniversary of this violent insurrection, each one of us must recommit to the founding ideals of our republic. I look forward to celebrating Democracy Day in the years to come as a symbol of that recommitment every year.”

Meanwhile, Republicans accused Democrats, liberal activists and media outlets of exploiting the one-year anniversary for political gain with a full day of speeches, testimonials, ceremonies and vigils, as well as some overheated rhetoric.

Vice President Kamala D. Harris compared the attack to the Pearl Harbor bombing and 9/11 terrorist attack, which former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called “just plain embarrassing.”

“Nearly 3,000 people died on 9/11, and about 2,400 were killed at the attack of Pearl Harbor,” tweeted Rep. Greg Steube, Florida Republican. “Her blatant disregard for the legitimacy of those tragedies by correlating them to 1/6 is reprehensible.”

Patriotic and National Observances range from the celebratory, such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, to the somber, including the National Pearl Harbor Day of Remembrance and Patriot Day, which honors those killed in the terrorist strike on Sept. 11, 2001. 

Democracy Day would “commemorate the U.S. tradition of successful and democratic transitions of presidential power and honor the sacrifices of those who have preserved this hallmark of democracy.”

“Each year on Democracy Day, state and local governments, civil and educational authorities, and the people of the United States would be urged to observe the day with programs and activities,” said the release, which said the resolution has more than 45 cosponsors.

The United Nations recognizes Sept. 15 as the International Day of Democracy.

Over the last 70 years, the U.S. Capitol has been the target of several violent attacks by leftist militants, although none of those incidents has been memorialized with a federal observance designation.

On March 1, 1954, four Puerto Rican nationalists opened fire on the House floor, wounding five congressmen. President Jimmy Carter commuted the sentences of the assailants in 1979.

Exactly 17 years later, the radical group Weather Underground claimed responsibility for detonating a bomb in a Senate bathroom, causing an estimated $300,000 in damage, to protest the Vietnam War. No one was charged.

On Nov. 7, 1983, radicals with the Armed Resistance Unit set off a bomb in the Senate in retaliation for U.S. military actions in Grenada and Lebanon, doing an estimated $250,000 in damage. Three people were ultimately sentenced in the attack, including Susan Evans.

In 2001, President Bill Clinton commuted Ms. Evans’ sentence for the bombing and other criminal actions to time served.

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