WASHINGTON (AP) —Side by side at ground zero on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a Republican governor read from the Gettysburg Address and a Democratic governor read from the Declaration of Independence as Americans everywhere mourned and remembered as one people.
On Thursday, in contrast, the anniversary of the assault on the U.S. Capitol exposed a nation of two peoples.
Democrats, led by one angry president standing in the gleaming hall of statues overrun a year ago by the pro-Trump mob, remembered. Republicans in large measure moved on.
How a nation mourns and remembers has long been fundamental to America’s glossy ideal of shared values, common purpose and familiar sense of history. The division on this day showed a country far removed from that.
The counterpoint to President Joe Biden’s plea to save democracy and to the moment of mute remembrance led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was a day of silence from most of the Republican lawmakers who, just like the Democrats, had been hunted by the attackers.
“How dare anyone — anyone — diminish, belittle or deny the hell they were put through?” Biden demanded. “We saw it with our own eyes. … The lies that drive the anger and madness we saw in this place, they have not abated.”
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina acknowledged Jan. 6, 2021, was a “dark day in American history.” But he accused Biden of mining it for political gain.
“What brazen politicization of January 6 by President Biden,” he tweeted.
Outside Washington, vigils planned for the day were scattered and largely split along ideological or party lines.
It was wholly unlike Sept. 11, 2002, when doves were sent aloft, cannons fired and choirs across the country sang Mozart’s Requiem. New York’s Republican governor, New Jersey’s Democratic governor, the ex-mayor (and future Trump lawyer) Rudy Giuliani and Republican President George W. Bush joined New York City crowds in commemoration of a day honored worldwide.