WEST HARTFORD — U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy spoke at a vigil Thursday night on the anniversary of last year’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The two senators were joined on the Town Hall steps by other elected officials and guest speakers, all of whom shared their perspectives on what happened one year ago. The vigil was organized by the Progressive Women of Greater Hartford, Rapid Organized Action Response, the Universalist Church of West Hartford and Indivisible Connecticut.

Blumenthal began by sharing his firsthand experience.

“I am haunted by what happened a year ago when I was on the floor of the United States Senate,” Blumenthal said. “We were rushed from the floor. We were told that our lives were in danger, and in fact they were. We saw as we rushed from that chamber the bats and the pipes, the Trump flags, the Confederate banners. People shouting that they wanted to kill us and would if they had the chance. They wanted to kill democracy.”

Blumenthal continued, calling for the prosecution of those responsible for the day.

“We can’t let Jan. 6 go unpunished,” he said. “We need to prosecute, not only the people who were there...we need to climb the ladder of responsibility wherever the facts take us. Rudolph Giuliani, Michael Flynn, the people who organized and funded and incited and invited, they need to be prosecuted to, all the way to the top.”

He cautioned those in attendance — some holding signs denouncing last year’s events and many others holding candles and flashlights — that this could happen again, not just in Washington, D.C., but at state capitol buildings.

“And here is my warning to you: what happened on Jan, 6 was round one of the assault on democracy by violent extremism,” Blumenthal said. “The biggest threat to our internal security today is not a foreign terrorist with a bomb. It’s violent extremism within this country. It was not a one-off. It was not an isolated incident, but a symptom of that violent extremism that has infected our society.”

Murphy, speaking after Blumenthal, thanked those in attendance for their participation.

“We deeply appreciate the fact that here in Connecticut…that you have our country’s back,” Murphy said. “It’s a lot easier to sit at home, to play it safe, to hope that other people will stand up for what’s right for democracy. You’ve made a choice, not just to be here tonight, but to get up every day and spend a little part of your life fighting to preserve what’s great about this country.”

Taking a more optimistic turn, Murphy asked everyone to try and feel more “gladness” than “sadness and madness.”

“I know the instinct today is to feel a combination of sadness and madness,” Murphy said. “To be sad about the state of our democracy and to be mad and furious about what those people did. And that’s okay. But I want you to reserve only about 10 percent of yourself to feel sad and 10 percent of yourself to feel mad. I want the rest of your 80 percent to be gladness. This country we live in today is an absolute miracle. This is a revolutionary idea, democracy.”

But Murphy also used his time on the steps of the town hall to condemn the Republican party.

“Our Republican colleagues had a choice after Jan. 6,” Murphy said. “They could have turned the page on Donald Trump. They could have used Jan. 6 and the insurrection that he inspired to shut the book on that chapter of the Republican party and that chapter of American history. They could have called out his lies. But they didn’t. In fact, they stayed silent, they rallied to his defense, they allowed him to take control of the party.”

Conard High School senior Maya Palanki gave her perspective too, saying she had to read the news over and over last year to make sure what she was hearing about was actually happening.

“I remember feeling shock,” Palanki said. “It was reality. As a kid when I first learned about democracy in school they emphasized the right to vote and participate, a peaceful way for citizens to be represented. People absolutely cannot violently revolt when the outcome is not what they had hoped. Solving what you believe to be unjust with an entirely unjust action is not only unwise, but it is immoral; it is dangerous.”

State Rep. Kate Farrar, who was elected in 2020, was sworn into office on Jan. 6 — making for a contrast between what she experienced in Connecticut and what other lawmakers were experiencing in Washington.

“Last year on this day, in the bright cold sun of the afternoon, I rose my hand for the first time at our state capitol and took an oath of service to our community and our state,” Farrar said. “That could not be a more marked contrast to see that oath trampled by elected officials questioning the very rule of law that our constitution provides us.”

Connecticut Media Group