‘Chaug responds to US upheaval in ‘Dear America’ letter series

Morgan Hastain, News Editor

On January 6, 2021, a large group of Trump supporters, many of whom believed unfounded allegations that the election was stolen, took over the nation’s Capitol with the intent of stopping the electoral counting process in an unprecedented assault against democracy during a time of extreme uncertainty.

As a response to the riot and the ongoing crisis America faces, The Smoke Signal has reached out to its readers to hear their thoughts on the state of our country in a series called “Dear America.”

On Jan. 6, after being encouraged by then president Donald Trump, hundreds of people, some wearing body armor and helmets, began to loot and destroy the hallways and offices throughout the Capitol building.

“Something needs to change. We need someone in power who actually cares,” wrote Claire Robinson, a Minnechaug junior, in a letter she wrote in the “Dear America” series. “Not someone in it for the money, or for the power, this is not what democracy is supposed to be.”

The storming of the Capitol also impacted the way some students view our country. “I have always been grateful for our democracy, for the fact that I lived in a country where everyone could be treated equally, where ‘anyone could do anything,’” Quinn Suomala, a Minnechaug junior, said in a letter she wrote a day after the assault on the Capitol.

Yet, she wrote that she was recently “awakened from that dream. America is not perfect, it is not the best. It is far from it. And yesterday was only another example of just that.”

It is clear that this “insurrection” has hurt our nation, but one question still remains: What does this mean for our democracy? 

Mr. Griffith, a history teacher at Minnechaug, stated that the event was quite upsetting to watch. The once small crowd of demonstrators quickly turned into a mob, as they were encouraged by Trump in a rally before the riot to “fight like hell […] if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” 

“This was an attempt to overturn our Republic’s democratic process,” said Griffith. “It was sad to watch our own citizens attempt to subvert democracy and rise up against the United States.” 

As a result of the mob, president Donald Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives for the second time for “Inciting an Insurrection.” 

Our friends and enemies around the world have watched in delight and horror.

“The world is watching, and they are shocked,” said Griffith. “World leaders who are allies to the United States, have condemned this kind of act  and stand with the people of our Country to support our Republic and want to protect our Democracy. … Our enemies around the world are watching with delight and enjoyment, as they see a weakened United States.”

The raid on our nation’s capital has undoubtedly affected the citizens of the United States, as many fear what’s to come. 

“You don’t boast with pride anymore,” wrote Abyssinia Haile, a Minnechaug freshman, in her letter. “The rest of the world ridicules you as you fight yourself day in and day out. Things that once signified your essence of unity – your flag, your anthem, your name – now are nothing more than a partisan debate.” 

During this time of division and hurt, it is important to recognize all voices, regardless of a person’s race, gender, sexual orientation, or other identity, which is why The Smoke Signal launched the “Dear America” series. We want to hear what you think about our country and its future.

Dear America will consist of a series of letters written by students that address any concerns, feelings, and opinions about our country. The letters should be short, between 300 and 400 words, or less. In the letter, tell America about your concerns and your hopes:

– How do you view America today?
– What do you hope for American in the future?
– How can we get there?

Address America as if it were a person, and don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Your voice deserves to be heard, no matter what anyone else thinks. The Smoke Signal encourages you to be open to other opinions, as every person is different. You can email your letters to our club adviser, Mr. O’Connor, at [email protected].

After all, in the words of Mr. Griffith, “Our democracy is only as strong as those who want to protect it.” 

You can read letters starting Jan. 20 in a special section entitled “Dear America” series.

[This article was written before President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were sworn in on Jan. 20.)