Press Release
For Immediate Release: 
January 1, 2022
Contact Info: 
Margaret Mulkerrin 202-225-3130
Wanted to be sure you saw this op-ed by House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) published in USA TODAY this morning about the first anniversary of the January 6 attack on the Capitol. The op-ed includes a call to Americans to lower their flags to half staff at 2:11 p.m. on January 6, when the U.S. Capitol was first breached, and raise them again to full staff at 8:06 p.m., when the Senate reconvened. To read the op-ed, click here or see below:

USA TODAY

Honor those who defended the US Capitol by lowering flags on Jan. 6

By House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer

January 1, 2021

From time to time we lower our flags to half staff, in many instances because of the death of someone who has earned our nation’s respect, as we did recently for Bob Dole, Colin Powell , Walter Mondale and Harry Reid. 

At other times, we do so to mourn the loss of our fellow citizens in tragic events and at moments of grief and great disappointment, such as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day and the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. 

Next week, our nation will commemorate the first anniversary of the attack on our Capitol and our democracy on Jan. 6. That day left a stain on our history as a beacon of self-government in a world where tyranny still holds great sway. 

Remembering the terror

Those of us who experienced that attack firsthand will never forget the terror felt within the halls of Congress. Others watching from around the country and across the world will surely remember where they were and what they felt as they saw the painful images of U.S. Capitol Police officers being beaten and maimed by those attempting to overturn our free and fair election through violent means. 

I will never forget spending hours that day in a secure location alongside Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other congressional leaders and watching the images on our screens of the Capitol – the heart of our democracy – covered in smoke and strife.

When I finally reached my staff by phone, I could hear the alarm in their voices and the pounding and shouts of the mob on the other side of the door behind which they had barricaded themselves in our office. 

Many of my colleagues were trapped in various rooms of the building and on the House floor as well and so many of the Capitol Police officers I had come to know over the years were outnumbered and at great risk. 

Throughout those hours, I made phone calls pleading for help – including to the Defense Secretary and Gov. Larry Hogan, urging the Maryland National Guard to be deployed to the Capitol. 

Disturbingly, the president of the United States was absent, ignoring Americans’ demand that he carry out his duties to preserve our democracy and protect those defending it with their lives. 

One year later, federal investigators and prosecutors continue their work to bring the insurrectionists to justice, while the bipartisan Jan. 6 committee seeks a full public accounting for what transpired that day and in the weeks preceding it. 

 Americans have reflected on what this attack means for our country and for our future, leaving many deeply worried about the dangerous strain of extremism that has infected our politics. 

Anger, trauma and fear still reverberate through the U.S. Capitol complex like the piercing sound of shattered glass, with many dedicated and patriotic staff and employees worried about what their next day in service might unexpectedly bring, as it did on Jan. 6. 

As we always do when our calendars bring us closer to a day of somber reflection, we ask ourselves how best we can memorialize a day that shook our country. On Dec. 7 and Sept. 11, we somberly recall attacks that, tragically, achieved their evil short-term aims, even though we ultimately prevailed over the forces of fascism and al-Qaeda terror. 

A solemn moment

On Jan. 6, we will instead be solemnly remembering an altogether different thing: the heroism that defeated an effort to overthrow our democracy and system of self-government. 

The stark difference was, as I said, in the early morning of Jan. 7, that it was our fellow Americans who led that assault on our democracy, just as it was our fellow Americans who stood guard over our Capitol and responded to that assault.

For six hours, the violent mob of insurrectionists disrupted the counting of the American people’s votes and certification of the election results. During that time, our nation was gripped in the throes of an attempt to circumvent the Constitution bestowed by our Founders and impose rule not by law but by force. Thanks to the courage of law enforcement and the determination of lawmakers, however, the insurrection was defeated and democracy and the constitutional rule of law prevailed.

The attack on Pearl Harbor awoke a nation to the dangers of allowing tyranny and fascism to spread around the world unchecked. Sept. 11, 2001, shattered our collective sense of safety and security after the end of the Cold War. Both of these made us realize what we had taken for granted. On Jan. 6, our nation experienced that same reaction with regard to the stability of our democracy. We were reminded that our Constitution, rule of law, free and fair elections and the peaceful transition of power all rest on the actions and inactions of the American people and must never, ever be taken for granted.  

'Our democracy still stood'

On days like Dec. 7 and Sept. 11, we lower our flags to half staff from sunrise to sunset to mourn our loss. 

On Jan. 6, I am asking all Americans to lower their flags to half staff at 2:11 p.m. – when the U.S. Capitol was first breached – and raise them again to full staff six hours later at 8:06 p.m., the time the Senate reconvened, soon after joined by the House, to complete the certification of the election. 

By “dawn’s early light,” our democracy still stood. 

As we lower and raise the symbol of our country and our democracy, let it remind us of that day and the challenge we beat back. And, when we raise Old Glory at 8:06 p.m., surely that vision will "give proof through the night that our flag was still there," that what it represents did not fall, and that the brave ones who never made it home that day will never be forgotten.

Our sense that the foundation of American democracy is secure may have been shaken, but our determination to protect and strengthen it remains unassailable. That is the lesson I hope we all remember on Jan. 6, 2022 – and the lesson that will be repeated on every Jan. 6 in the years to come. Let it remind us of those famous words: "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."