The Capitol Rotunda is a large, domed room in the center of the U.S. Capitol. Beneath this room, there is a cornerstone laid by President George Washington in 1793. The iconic white dome was completed in 1863, right in the middle of the Civil War. Throughout times of peace and tumult, this room serves as the symbolic heart of our country.
On January 6, 2021, Representative Andy Kim of New Jersey had been sheltering in place for six hours during the assault on the Capitol. Afterward, he walked around the building surveying the damage. He paused at the Rotunda and was shocked by the scene – broken furniture, cigarette butts, gloves and coats, torn flags, body armor and food were strewn everywhere. Tears welled in Kim’s eyes as he surveyed the disarray.
Kim spoke with some police officers who had finally found a moment to eat and were collecting their empty pizza boxes in trash bags. Kim asked if he might have some of the extra bags. For the next several hours, until 3 a.m., Kim got down on his hands and knees and cleaned the Rotunda, filling bag after bag with debris. Later, when asked about his actions, he said, “When you see something you love that’s broken, you want to fix it… What else could I do?”
Sometimes we don’t know how to fix things. We don’t know where to begin. But just like Rep. Kim, we can take small actions, creating a sign of our common humanity.
We can start where we are.