Dean Denise A. Seachrist: Democracy is Worth Saving
Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021
Washington is burning, and this isn’t the first time.
In 1814, British troops stormed our capital city, setting ablaze several buildings, including the White House. On Wednesday, while we watched in horror and shock as protesters stormed the Capitol Building, we couldn’t help but feel that democracy was burning in this present day.
Just as the old rule attempted to assert power, authority and supremacy during the War of 1812, an organized group rallied for the same as they scaled walls and buildings, destroyed hallowed halls and defaced symbols of American freedom.
But for every seemingly hopeless moment, there are heroes who rise up. We thank the brave officials who worked well into the night to complete the electoral count, and ensure democracy, indeed, shines brightly during this dark hour.
This time, it wasn’t the British who were coming, but our own countrymen. We once fought for the freedom to worship as we choose, and to drink coffee instead of tea. But this kind of unrest is something our nation hasn’t experienced since the Civil War.
As Stark County’s public university, Kent State University at Stark stands with our elected officials of both parties, who represent the public good.
We reiterate the words of Kent State University President Todd Diacon, who stated today: “At this moment in our nation’s history, now more than ever, I call on Americans to embrace and practice our university’s core value of kindness and respect in all that we do. Democracy is both a mighty force and a fragile vessel that relies on a universally shared commitment to dialogue, understanding and the truth. We assert, and rightly so, that hate has no home at Kent State University. Hate and sedition likewise should have no home in the United States of America.”
Yesterday’s unfortunate show of privilege will not win. We must not forget the lessons of the past year – from the consequences of political unrest to the power of the Black Lives Matter movement. We must do better as a nation. Our future depends upon it.
We would all do well to remember those word penned by our nation’s founding fathers so long ago:
“We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
We are the people. We are the mothers, daughters, sons and fathers, the community members who come together in spite of this. We are the educators, the students who hold the integrity of this great country in our hands. After all, some things are worth saving.
As the British troops drew closer to the White House more than two centuries ago, then First Lady Dolley Madison did something some might have considered strange, but symbolic, nonetheless. She ordered the famed Lansdowne portrait of George Washington to be saved. Breaking its 8-by-5-foot glass enclosure, shards rained down on Madison and her staff. Still, they escaped with the painting.
And, today, we are a little broken, too. But we walk away with something worth saving.
Denise A. Seachrist, Ph.D.
Dean and Chief Administrative Officer
Kent State University at Stark