Like most people, when I watched last year’s riot/demonstration/insurrection on January 6th, I was shocked and heartbroken. However, as I watched news coverage of the first anniversary, I recalled the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968, when massive riots broke out in Washington. I was stationed at Fort Bragg, where we were quickly put on C-130’s in full battle gear and parachutes. All night, as we circled DC waiting to jump, I watched fires burning all over the city. I was shocked and heartbroken that night. We never jumped and were returned to Fort Bragg at sunrise.
Yesterday, I began comparing the two heartbreaking events. The 1968 heartbreak was a reaction to the murder of their leader. The 2021 heartbreak was a reaction to the election loss of their leader. The participants in 1968 were local and damaged their own neighborhoods. Many participants in 2021 traveled great distance to damage an international icon. The racial profile of the two groups could not be more different, but both groups felt politically disenfranchised. The 1968 riot was emotional and spontaneous, while the 2021 riot was planned and calculated.
Which is more heartbreaking?