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A week to remember in more ways than one

This week was not the best week on America’s calendar, nor was it for Carter Countians. At least 11 persons in Carter County died this week from COVID-19. Overall, the county has had 99 deaths since the pandemic struck in March.
To date, there have been 40,609 cases of coronavirus and 700 deaths reported in Northeast Tennessee since the pandemic began.
COVID-19 hospitalizations in Northeast Tennessee remain high as does the infection rate.
But, a bit of good news. All seven counties in Northeast Tennessee are working hard to vaccinate people against COVID-19, and every day people line up to get the shots — some sit in lines for three or four hours to get the vaccination.
There is still much work to be done to contain the virus, but we must not give up. We are moving in the right direction.
On the national front, it was a week that we hope will not be repeated again, ever. Stoked by rhetoric on the part of a president, who lost his re-election bid in November, the nation’s Capitol in Washington, D.C., was attacked by a mob of Trump-backers, while Congress was in session. Four people died as a result of the violence.
The siege on the U.S. Capitol, and democracy, is Donald J. Trump’s legacy. The only other siege of the U.S. Capitol was by the British in 1914, when they torched the White House, the Capitol, and other federal buildings.
Wednesday’s assault, over 200 years later, was more insidious since it came from within. The stunning scene, which millions watched on TV, was one of the darkest days of our republic’s democracy, when the president incited violence toward the country and government that he was entrusted to lead.
Last summer, most party leaders looked the other way when Trump had hundreds of peaceful protestors forcibly removed from a demonstration near the White House so he could pose with a Bible in front of a church. That should have told us something, have opened our eyes to what perhaps could occur in the days ahead.
He turned his back for the most part on the work at hand and became a power-hungry leader, willing to do whatever it took to be the president of the United States.
Wednesday, we witnessed an attempt to overthrow democracy. As one newspaper said, “The actual reality is that we witnessed an attempted, and bloody coup.”
We watched on TV as rioters broke into the Capitol building, shattering glass and breaking windows, with some making their way to the Senate floor. In the entrance to the House chamber, rioters and Capitol Police had an armed showdown. Others made their way to the offices of lawmakers, ransacked desks, and took memorabilia. One rioter was seen carrying a lectern from the Capitol.
Wednesday’s attack, though shocking, was not surprising. Since before the election, Trump and his base, which includes some senators and congressmen, have pushed lies and conspiracies about the validity of the election. That set the stage for the violent insurrection that unfolded in the nation’s capital Wednesday.
Despite no proof of voter fraud, Tennessee’s own two senators and newly-elected First District Congressman Diana Harshberger announced plans to object to the Electoral College votes in a couple of states. All have been strong Trump fans. Senators Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty backed down after the Capitol riot, but Harshberger carried through with her plan.
Perhaps, this should be a wake-up call to Tennessee’s representatives that they were not sent to Washington to be cheerleaders for the president nor to do his bidding, but to represent Tennesseans and the people in their district.
Tennessee is about as red as it can get, when it comes to voting Republican. But, Republicans, like Democrats, are not always right, and they aren’t always what they portend. What happened on Wednesday in our nation’s capital, is not what America is about, nor what Tennessee is about. It’s what Donald Trump is about.
Hopefully, we can move on. We can become a better America, better respect each other’s opinion, and love each other, be they Democrat or Republican, black, brown, red, or white. God made us all and He gave each of us a free will — not to use it selfishly, but in service to others. All people have worth in God’s eyes.
This week has left its mark in many ways — shame at what happened at the nation’s capital, pity for the nation’s president, and grief for families who have lost loved ones to COVID-19, compassion for those who are sick from it, a greater respect for those serving on the front lines of the pandemic, and a desire to be a better person and citizen.