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Thursday, June 30, 2022

Transitions – A Guardsman Protects our Capital


Last month, in the first of a three-part series, I introduced Jeff a Soldier in the Indiana National Guard. This is a continuation of his story in his words.

I’ve been on a few short deployments, nothing combat-related or anything, but it was the events of JANUARY 6th that has left the most impact so far. By mid-January, Indiana already had sent soldiers there for the Inauguration, a tradition every state and territory contributed to. But the mission was extended, and some soldiers needed to come home for school and work. Volunteers were needed to backfill those jobs.

Our deployment was controlled chaos and the fastest I’ve ever done. On a Monday, I had about 24 hours to put my life on hold before putting on the uniform and by the end of the week, I was in DC. A day after that we were putting our people on the perimeter of the Capitol during a snowstorm.

We often say an experience was once in a lifetime. In this case, I only want it to be so as I don’t ever want to again live the events that got us there. I’ve regularly been to DC, but the access we had to some of our most priceless monuments and institutions – and completely devoid of traditional tourists – was surreal. I will always remember the second night there. After a long shift working in a command post inside the Capitol basement a police officer just allowed us to walk around…the United States Capitol…unescorted.

I convinced (read: dragged) one of my closest friends to come on the deployment with me. That night, we walked around the Visitor Center, Crypt, and Hall of Statues – places that were on the tour I experienced almost exactly a year prior. Then we went to the parts that weren’t on the tour: the 1st-floor wings, the Speaker’s, and Minority Leader’s offices. We spent way too much time standing in the center of the Rotunda which was completely empty except for us gawking. It is dark and eerie. Normally it is an area with ample natural light, but at 10PM, it is solemn. Two days later, Officer Brian Sicknick would lie in honor at the same spot where I was Facetiming my family who had not heard from me in a week.

For a very rushed hour, our jaws never quite came up off the floor. What was so prevalent throughout the impromptu tour was the presence of the damage that had brought us there in the first place. The spider web of a cracked pane of glass (and the reflection of an American flag in the background), pepper ball markings on the walls, riot shields in a pile, staged for a possible round two.

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Barbara Blomquist
Barbara Blomquist
Barbara Blomquist is a Naperville resident, wife, mother, quilter, and screenwriter. Contact her at BWBLomquist@aol.com.

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