I’m a Navy veteran. This is what the January 6 anniversary means to me
Pro-Trump protesters seen inside Capitol building as they enter in through broken windows. (lev radin / Shutterstock.com)

As a Navy veteran and concerned citizen of our great nation, I feel it is time to lift my voice with the millions of other Americans who believe our core values are being challenged by the whitewashing of the events that occurred on Jan. 6, 2021.

I am infuriated that the whitewashing is being committed by most Republican federal office holders and MAGA media outlet personalities, particularly those on Fox News, where their outright lies are misinforming millions of Americans about what really happened that day. In my mind, promoting these lies threatens the values that truly make America great.

I believe that Americans value honesty and transparency from our elected leaders in government. I believe that we value free and fair elections where all eligible citizens are given every opportunity to cast their ballot. I believe that we value peaceful transitions of power that allow our democracy to function without falling into authoritarianism, oligarchy, and/or civil conflict. I fear there is a growing segment of our nation that is choosing to forego these values for political gain by any means necessary.

During my service in the Navy, I was lucky to be stationed on a ship that embarked on a cruise to the Mediterranean and Black Seas in the mid-1990s.

We stopped in Odessa, Ukraine, which had recently been freed of the yoke of authoritarianism under the rule of the Soviet Union. Ukrainian citizens basked in their new freedoms to elect their own leaders and take part in guiding the fate of their country. They knew well the oppression inherent in authoritarian rule. Today, Ukraine is fighting off an attempt by Russia to return them to the days of authoritarian rule. America cannot allow even the possibility that authoritarianism takes root here.

Make no mistake that the events on January 6th were a coup attempt as we would call similar events in any other country. Our democracy is in peril, fellow citizens.

We must support the investigation being conducted by the House Select Committee on the events of January 6th to allow a full understanding of the events of that day so that we may prevent a future coup attempt. The next attempt could succeed. To maintain the freedoms afforded to us, the citizens of the United States, by our Constitution, there must be accountability for the planners, leaders, and inciters of the Jan, 6 insurrection.

Full stop.

New laws protecting the right to vote for all American citizens are a non-negotiable imperative to strengthening our democracy. We must pass legislation such as the Freedom to Vote Act to ensure not only that the right to vote guaranteed to all American citizens is not abridged but that we keep our election commission members and auditors independent of state legislatures that may choose to overturn a rightful election result.

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The founders of this nation created a government of the people, by the people, for the people. Each generation is handed a great gift along with the responsibility to maintain that gift for future generations. The moment has arrived for our generation to protect the gift of democracy for our children and grandchildren. We all must find a way to put country over political party. I call for all Americans, no matter your political persuasion, to make a stand for America’s core democratic values by demanding accountability for the organizers of the insurrection on January 6th and passage of comprehensive voting rights legislation.

Mike Kirlin is a technical sales manager and Navy Veteran from Southwestern Pennsylvania. He advocates for democracy in America.


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