Hill on Capitol Hill

How America’s principles turned to rubble in Sonya Hill’s backyard.

“The Capitol building has just been raided and I have to sit down and do my statistics homework,” senior Sonya Hill said with a slight laugh. However, this laugh wasn’t one of joy: it was of sheer disbelief and exasperation as democracy crumbled around her.

As early evening settled on Jan. 6, students, teachers and their families were glued to their televisions wondering what could possibly come next. But for Hill, this story quite literally hit close to home. To catch a glimpse of the action all she had to do was look outside her kitchen window.

The time was 7pm. D.C.’s curfew had started an hour prior. Living only one mile from the Capitol building, the horror of what everyone saw on news stations was what Hill was living through. “It’s tense,” Hill pauses, constructing her thoughts as madness continues on outside. “There’s a looming sense of doom.”

The idea of going any further than the block around which Hill lives filled her with unease. “I just definitely don’t feel safe now today…We’re all just waiting for something to happen and we have no idea what’s going to happen next.”

Despite the fear Hill felt, another feeling was more prominent: despondency. “It makes my heart hurt,” Hill said solemnly. 

Just like the country, Hill was at a loss for words. Dumfounded, disappointed and disheartened she put it simply; “It just sucks.”

The morning of Jan. 7, there wasn’t much internal emotional resolution for Hill. She had gone to bed tense and woke up the same. Thoughts raced through her mind: Would there be resolve? Repercussions? What would come next?

“I think I wanted to see if someone, anyone, was being held accountable,” Hill said.

The chaos that occurred wasn’t the most chilling thing on Hill’s mind that morning; it was the fact that school went on as normal. “School definitely feels like an afterthought today,” Hill said, “[It’s] kind of like, does this really matter right now?”

The most haunting thing to Hill, though, was hearing the Pledge of Allegiance that morning. A typical part of a school day was suddenly turned into something that echoed empty promises. “The fact that something of this scale happened and our nation’s leaders allowed it [to happen] made the pledge hard to hear. Yesterday was an appalling moment in American history.”

Now, two months later, Hill is adjusting to a new normalcy. “It doesn’t feel like they’ve loosened restrictions. I still see busses of troops outside the Capitol building.”

Besides the ramped up security, day to day life in D.C. has also changed. “People seem to be used to the guard presence and barbed wire now. It’s not a bad thing, but I think everyone wishes things were back to normal. You used to be able to get so close to the Capitol, eat on the steps of the Library of Congress, and now you can’t even walk on the sidewalk across the street from it. Security in D.C. will probably never be the same.”