Don’t bother trying to recognize the man in the old photo standing proudly before the Capitol in Washington D.C. His name is Mike Michaelson and he was my uncle.

Mike was in the gallery of the House of Representatives Chamber on the day of a terrorist attack. It wasn’t last week. It was March 1, 1954, when four Puerto Rican nationalists opened fire with semi-automatic pistols from the Ladies Gallery and shot and wounded five Congressmen. Later, the attackers were found guilty and sentenced to the equivalent of life sentences.

My Uncle Mike was there that day doing his job. It was a job he loved and did for most of his adult life, eventually becoming supervisor of the Radio & Television Correspondents Gallery. He worked there for 35 years before retiring to become a VP of C-Span, serving another 15 years. His home was filled with decades of memorabilia collected during his tenure there. When Speaker McCormack pounded his gavel for the last time before his retirement was to begin, he turned and handed the gavel to Mike, thus becoming a treasured part of his collection.

Mike always sat in the same chair in the gallery but that day he decided to move in closer for a better view as an immigration bill was being debated on the floor. It was a fortunate decision because after the attack he found his normal chair riddled by bullets.

My Uncle Mike loved his job and absolutely revered the Capitol and its rich history and what it represented. He shared that feeling with his family. His son Robert became a paige there as a teenager and he and his sister Deedee were frequent weekend visitors, wandering the halls and chambers of the Capitol on weekends with their dad. When they were younger, my cousin Bobby was allowed to pretend drive the underground subway there and Deedee sat in the Speaker’s chair.

On a summer camp trip to Washington D.C. in 1966 I visited the same chamber in the House of Representatives. Although Congress was not in session and the room empty, it still filled me with awe, perhaps accentuated by the eerily quiet that filled the space. Just as we were about to leave a side door below us opened and a man walked over to the dais and approached the desk before the Speaker’s chair. It was my Uncle Mike.

I was far too intimidated by the setting to shout down to him, but I poked my fellow campers excitedly and told them it was my Uncle Mike. Of course, not one of them believed me.

Mike Michaelson died some years ago. I’m grateful that he never had to witness what we all saw on Jan. 6 when a mob smashed their way into the Capitol, some to take selfies and some others prepared to take hostages. Others grabbed souvenirs, broke into offices, and generally ransacked and desecrated the building in vile ways with justifications that it was, after all, The People’s House. One Capitol Hill police officer protecting that sacred house was killed in the attack.

As awful as the 1954 terrorist attack on the House of Representatives was, it pales in comparison to what we witnessed with horror the other day when a large mob, egged on to fever pitch by a sitting President and his personal lawyer incited them to take back an election they falsely claimed was stolen from them- to take it back by physical force instead of votes.

Many people carried placards that read Stop the Steal, the irony apparently lost on them as they proceeded to attempt just that: overthrow a democratic election which they lost. Later some of the members of that mob claimed that they were fed up with not having a voice and just wanted to be heard. To them I say this:

We heard you loud and clear. We also saw what you did, and the disgrace it brought upon the country. Your claim of patriotism is as false as the claim of a stolen election. Today, Jan. 11, 2021 an Article of Impeachment was introduced against the person who played a key and pivotal role in that assault on our democracy. That will forever be an even more memorable and meaningful event in our nation’s history.

Gazette contributor Robert Skydell lives in Granada, Nicaragua.