The moment Joe Biden officially becomes President it will be---almost to the hour---the two-week anniversary of ‘America’s insurrection’; the day thousands of rioters violated the sanctity of the U.S. Capitol. On January 6th, with implicit permission and encouragement from Donald Trump, they marched to the Capitol where they broke windows to gain entry and proceeded to run roughshod over everything in their way. They justified their actions under the veil of patriotism.
But patriotism---the patriotism they understand---was absent on the day insurgents stormed the Capitol, say former U.S. Army combat veterans David Vigil and Purple Heart recipient George Autobee. “To me,” said Vigil, “they bought into lies.” The biggest lie, he thinks, is the insurrectionists’ belief in something as bad or worse---white supremacy. It is, said Vigil, what Trump has tacitly given a nod and wink to for the last four years. “It’s what happens when you have the type of leadership that you have in Trump.”
Both Vigil and Autobee answered the nation’s call as eighteen-year-olds. Both were drafted and within months of receiving ‘greetings from the President,’ as all selective service letters began, were among hundreds of thousands of other young men---boots on the ground in a war they may not have understood but were ready to do what America’s warriors had done for decades, fight for their country.
But watching the insurrection, both agreed, was not the America either had fought for. “It was scary,” said Vigil. Images of other countries flashed through his mind. “Venezuela, or another places, that’s where it would happen. Certainly, not in the U.S.”
The mostly men and almost uniformly white, at the Capitol that day, said Autobee, were “traitors, insurgents and criminals.” The flags they carried, including Confederate flags, “showed their racism.” Autobee, with both Army and Marine duty on his resume, wants every person who took part in the insurrection to be “charged…including charged with the killing of that police officer.” That officer, Brian Sicknick, was attacked and seriously injured. He died January 7th.
Autobee believes the actions of the insurrectionists were done not with military precision but with a combat-like zeal. “It was like the Battle of the Bulge when Hitler sent all these troops in…they overran our troops,” he said. While their actions were ugly and criminal, he’s nonetheless thankful that they were foolish enough to not only take their own cell phone pictures, but also post them making it easier for authorities to identify, locate, and arrest them.
The insurrection may have been the last thing anyone expected, but it should ultimately not have come as a complete surprise. The insurrectionists, said Vigil, “seemed to lose track of reality.” He believes it’s all a result of four years of listening to and buying into Trump’s incessant lies and mistatements. This is what you get, he said, “when you have the type of leadership you have in Trump.”
Like Autobee, Vigil, a retired U.S. government attorney, believes that there is a price to pay for the storming of the Capitol. “Trump was the primary instigator and motivator of the insurrection and should be dealt with accordingly.” “Trump and others like him should be charged with serious crimes and adjudicated for those crimes. Whatever the system calls for, it should be applied to them.”
If that is to happen, it will happen after Trump leaves office. There, so far, is no set date for when his second impeachment trial will begin. But while preparations are being made for that, other jurisdictions---New York’s Attorney General and Manhattan’s District Attorney---are doing the same, putting everything in place for legal proceedings that could last for years in Trump post-presidency.
It will be, say both former combat veterans, just desserts for a President who put himself above the document, the Constitution, both took an oath to preserve and protect.