January 6: Mourning A Closed Capitol

Today marks the 1st anniversary of the insurrection at the US Capitol.

Some Westporters will join a vigil, considering how close we came — and still totter — to the end of democracy. Others will urge: “Move on!”

Barbara Dunn Alfinito will think about that majestic Washington building itself.

She’s only been a Westporter since March. A Brooklyn native — with the accent to prove it — her daughter and son-in-law urged her to move here when they bought a home nearby. She resisted — until her 5-year-old grandson said, “Come!”

Barbara Dunn Alfinito

Barbara has spent 40 years as a tour guide. Her passion began in the early 1990s. When her family hosted foreign exchange students, she showed them the sights of New York City and the East Coast.

She soon created a business. Barb’s Getaway specializes in large group tours of New York and DC. She runs shopping, theater, eating and first-time traveler tours, but her favorites are for students. She introduces entire grades to the wonders of those fascinating cities.

Among all the sights, Barbara says, the US Capitol may be the most impressive. It is historic, majestic, and awe-inspiring. When youngsters leave, they are “proud and more knowledgeable. It’s an eye-opener.”

As insurrectionists overran the building a year ago today, Barbara was stunned.

“They got in with knives, guns — you name it,” she says.

One of Barbara’s tour groups, outside the US Capitol.

“When we were there, we went through metal detectors. They took away chocolates. I told the kids over and over again: hair spray, purchases, whatever you have — leave it on the bus.”

A boy once told her he had brass knuckles. He walked over to a planter, to bury them in the snow. Within seconds, the teenager was surrounded by security.

On January 6, 2021, hundreds of adults forced their way — or simply strolled — into the same Capitol. Some carried dangerous weapons.

The building is now substantially closed to visitors. It will not be as open as it was before “in my lifetime,” Barbara believes.

The loss for Americans — particularly students — is incalculable, she says. They’ll lose their sense of wonder and awe. They won’t be inspired to study history.

And the worst part is: “They won’t know what they’ve lost.”

5 responses to “January 6: Mourning A Closed Capitol

  1. John Hartwell

    I first visited the Capitol when I was twelve. I went with my mother and we visited the Congressman who represented her hometown. I went back the next day on my own, sat in the galleries, rode on the little subway, and roamed the halls for hours. And of course, both days I simply walked in — no security, no metal detectors, no fear. We have lost so much.

  2. David cleveland

    Names of people arrested for weapons. Guns are knives

  3. Bobbi Essagof

    WOW. Welcome to Westport. I also have great memories of visiting the Capitol. So glad I was able to enjoy my last and best tour given by my son, Eric, when he was an intern for Congressman Jim Himes as a GWU student. Eric gave my mother and I a private tour of The Capitol that I will never forget. We were both bursting with pride and also learned so much more than we ever knew about our country’s amazing history. Such a shame that those tours have to change. I pray for our country and all the generations to follow. May they be able to enjoy the freedom and less stressful life that we had before Jan. 6, 2021.

  4. Barbara Alfinito

    Thank you for the welcome! I think we all remember our school trips, all so wonderful!

  5. Dermot Meuchner

    I’m going back to Brooklyn!