As American as apple pie.

It seems like a rather strange phrase to correlate with the horrifying siege of the U.S. Capitol building that took place in Washington, D.C., Jan. 6. 

Late that evening, as Congress continued counting electoral votes and I finally regained my faculties enough to resume work that had been neglected as I absorbed coverage of the Capitol siege, I nibbled on a piece of apple pie.

My mom had made the pie from scratch only a couple days earlier — a major coup because she bakes so well but doesn’t always do it! The crust was flaky and perfectly browned. The sweet apples almost melted in my mouth. The cinnamon hit the perfect spot on my tongue, and the sugar sprinkled on top glittered under the kitchen lights.

It’s a recipe engrained in Mom’s ever-sharp mind as she helped her mother make pies as a youth — enough pies to keep her parents and 10 siblings satisfied all year long. It’s a recipe passed down from her mother, her grandmother, and generations before that, each generation tweaking it to suit their tastes, their ingredients on hand, and the equipment/tools they had to make it.

And as I continued to work on those articles and nibble on the final slice of pie, I got to thinking about what I witnessed on television earlier that day: 

I watched thousands of people asserting their First Amendment rights of freedom of assembly. Awesome! That’s what this country is founded on and the reason why I do my job and the law that protects that right.

I watched some of those protestors tear down barriers, defy the Capitol Police, storm into the Capitol, pull weapons, cause destruction, break windows, and perpetrate all manner of unlawful acts. The thought that these people, fellow Americans, desecrated the “citadel of Liberty,” as President-Elect Joe Biden called the Capitol, defied the very laws and orders they supposedly sought to uphold, shamed and horrified me. My eyes filled with tears — tears of sorrow, disbelief, disgust, and anger. It invoked as much fear as the Twin Towers falling in on themselves following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. 

Except these were home-grown terrorists.

I watched the president, the alleged leader of the free world, sit by and do virtually nothing other than incite the rioters to use any means necessary to wreak havoc. 

And after all was said and done, I watched Congress resume counting electoral college votes — meaning to uphold the Constitution and the will of the people — and then some of them object to Pennsylvania’s votes on baseless grounds contrived by a sore loser.

Now, I like to find a silver lining as much as possible. Jan. 6, it was pretty difficult. I guess overall, through this whole election debacle, the American public received an education on Constitutional policy and procedure related to elections. Televised election coverage when I was in fourth grade is what sparked my interest in political science and history to begin with.

Some rioters claimed they merely sought to uphold election laws and the Constitution; however, but in reality, they were breaking laws. Their acts instilled fear in the public, not to mention in the people they elected to represent them and uphold and create the laws in this country.

It’s unAmerican.

I struggled to correlate the Jan. 6 Capitol events with the America and principles I choose to believe in — truth, justice, peace, and “do unto others.”

But I realized that just like Mom’s apple pie recipe was tweaked and handed down over the generations, America is everchanging and developing. The recipe for America is growth and change — change for the better. We use the knowledge we gain, the ingredients we have, and the tools at our disposable to create the best final product that we can. 

We have passed that recipe down through the generations for almost 250 years, attempting to improve it as we go and staving off attempts at ruination at every turn. 

We persevere. 

That’s American as an apple pie.