January 6 commission can strengthen American values

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My father, retired US Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Michael Cahill, was shot six times charging a gunman who opened fire on his fellow soldiers at Fort Hood in 2009. Our country’s first president chose to step aside instead of becoming an authoritarian ruler – a king. Thousands of young men and women have come forward and volunteered to serve our country after 9/11.

Yet U.S. Representative Chip Roy and U.S. Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, along with other Texas representatives in Congress, not only fail to support a commission of inquiry into the violent attack on our nation’s Capitol on January 6 – the first of its kind in the scale and extent of the history of our young country – they also actively try to prevent its formation.

Our Capitol was stormed by insurgents with the intention of harming elected officials and stopping a democratic process. A sitting vice president approached an angry mob who intended to kill him for doing his democratic duty. The January 6 uprising was not a physical attack from another country or a mass shooting by a sympathizer – it was a threat to our republic from within. We the people deserve – no, demand – that it be taken as such.

People often tell me how heroic my father was on November 5, 2009, and how his sacrifice – blaming a gunman who killed 13 people – saved lives. We, especially those of us who live in and around “Military City, USA” understand the courage it takes to send sons, daughters, fathers and mothers in danger – and we make sure we do. ‘honor their sacrifices and bravery.

Supporting this commission is neither courageous nor heroic; it is good governance which strengthens the ideals of the republic and a strong democracy. That’s what our elected leaders are supposed to do: keep their oath to the Constitution.

Our country does not need you to be “brave” or “patriot” or “defend freedom” – words so overused that they no longer have any meaning or value. What our country needs is action. Actions are what defines us when words don’t make sense. What should be our actions after a violent attack on our Capitol during a vital democratic process and a central institution?

Supporting democracy and a strong republic is complicated and difficult work, but it does not require you or I to be martyrs; he only asks us to protect him when he has been threatened – that we stay strong when others around us cause doubt and that we strive not for perfection but for improvement.

So I ask again what should be our actions – and yours – after a violent attack on our Capitol during a vital democratic process and a central institution?

Honor our republic and support the January 6 commission.

Keely Cahill Vanacker of Kerrville is the eldest daughter of Michael Cahill.


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