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My reaction to the Capitol siege: Bean Soup!

Watching the siege on the Capitol Wednesday, January 6, my mind turned to Senate Bean Soup because I once had the privilege of enjoying it in a Senate dining area.

When John Hinckley Jr. shot President Ronald Reagan, March 30, 1981, the NBC Network News operation in Washington asked for additional support. A field producer in the Network Bureau in Chicago, I was dispatched to help out.

One day I was assigned to link up with a Washington-based crew to cover a Senate hearing. Before the afternoon session, the crew suggested we eat lunch in a Senate dining area frequented mostly by Senate staff members open, as a courtesy, to members of the news media. (It was off limits to the general public.)

A tradition, bean soup has been on the Senate menu since about 1905, served every day. I had to have it.  As I tasted the soup, for a moment I was no longer a journalist but a citizen in a bit of awe at the privilege of getting a modest behind the scenes glimpse of the inner workings of our democracy. And what a special place the Capitol building is. What it stands for.

Watching a mob with no respect for -- maybe no understanding of -- democratic processes storm the Capitol and enter the Senate, just made me shake my head.

We have lots of work to do trying to bridge the gaps in our highly polarized nation. Mob violence is not the answer. We must talk this through peacefully, not over a beer in bar, but over a bowl of Senate Bean Soup at the Capitol.


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