Assault on the Capitol

January 11, 2021

3 minutes

January 6, 2021 was an ugly and heart-wrenching day for all Americans, as the U.S. Capitol Building belongs to all of us.

It was an especially difficult day for those of us who live and work in Washington, and who walk through the Capitol and attend events and meetings within on a regular basis.  It’s where we work.  It’s where we live.  And what a great privilege.  My colleagues at the Center for American Entrepreneurship and I, our colleagues at other Washington-based organizations, and the Members of Congress and Congressional staff who we work with on a daily basis – no matter how many times we’ve been there – enter the Capitol and the Congressional office buildings with a profound sense of reverence and wonder.  When you pass through the Capitol Rotunda you feel as if you’re passing through the national cathedral.  You look around the grand space remembering that in just the last few years, Senator John McCain, President George H.W. Bush, Rep. John Lewis, Rep. Elijah Cummings, and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg have lain in state in that space.

One of the proudest moments for my colleague Katie Allen and me since launching CAE in 2017 was when Katie posed with two dozen women entrepreneurs before the Portrait Monument to women’s suffrage leaders Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony in the Rotunda.  The women had flown to Washington from all over the country at CAE’s request to participate in the Women’s Entrepreneurship Roundtable that we conducted with the Senate Entrepreneurship Caucus on September 24, 2019.  You can see on their faces the pride and excitement they felt being in such an important and hallowed place.

To see that magnificent building over-run and desecrated as it was on Wednesday was shocking.  Capitol offices were ransacked, windows smashed, marble statues defiled, bullet holes shot into the doors of the House chamber, and five people are dead, including Capitol Police Officer and Iraq War veteran Brian Sicknick.

Watching the assault on television Wednesday, I felt much of the same shock and horror that I did on September 11, 2001.  I was living in New York at the time and working at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, just across lower Broadway from the World Trade Centers.  As I watched the assault on the Capitol, I recalled that the heroic passengers of United Flight 93, upon learning from desperate cell phone calls with family members that their hijacked plane was likely headed for the Capitol, rushed the cockpit and deliberately downed the plane to prevent it from reaching its target.

Wednesday’s events vividly illustrate that public policy and leadership matter.  Profoundly, and more than ever.  We established CAE to improve the lives of all Americans and to contribute to the strength and prosperity of the nation through the transformative power of entrepreneurship and the progress and opportunity it generates.  Given the damage to the nation and economy inflicted by the Covid-19 pandemic – further complicating previously glaring problems of subpar economic growth, job insecurity, wealth and opportunity disparity, and festering feelings among too many Americans of economic abandonment – our work has never been more important.

Given the new Congress and incoming Administration, we have a busy agenda and lots of important work to do.  We’ll stay at it.  We remain thankful for and inspired by the example and leadership of the policymakers and their devoted staff members who we work with on behalf of American entrepreneurs.

Finally, the board of directors, leadership, and staff of the Center for American Entrepreneurship are shocked and deeply saddened at the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, a hero who gave his life protecting democratically elected Members of Congress and their staff members during the assault on the Capitol.  We send our respect, gratitude, and sincere condolences to his family.

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