About 15 years ago, I took my son and a few of his friends to their first ball game at Yankee Stadium, the greatest shrine in American sports.
It was a nightmare.
Fans got drunk, fast. The idiots behind us kept swearing and spilling their beers.
A guy in front of us got hit in the mouth with a foul ball.
Turned out he was in the wrong seat, so ushers grabbed him by his now-bloody shirt and threw him out.
Most despairingly, the legendary building was a dump – filthy, stinking of urine, dark and inhospitable.
Instead of welcoming fans, the Yankee brass treated them with contempt.
Was it any surprise that the crowd behaved accordingly?
Memories of that night are why I’m so enraged about what happened in Washington on Wednesday.
The Capitol, built during the Civil War, represents our ideal selves.
It has never fallen to disrepair.
It is an exultant idea rendered in three-dimensional space, a secular temple ringing with the fierce but fragile trust in democracy that has sustained this republic for two centuries.
Donald Trump’s mob sensed at least some of that, which is why they marched on the place.
But what true patriot smashes the windows of the church they profess to attend?
How ignorant, or dismissive, of American history is someone who waves a Confederate flag through these halls?
How much phoney prophetic gibberish (Dark to Light! This is our House!) do the rest have to listen to, to understand how someone could smear their excrement in this “house” they so cherish?
Trump and his vandals like to excite each other with bogus tales of historical destiny.
Fighting them with facts is exhausting, a game of civics whack-a-mole with people who still think the Earth is flat.
What was exposed on Wednesday in all the desecration was the lie behind the Trump mob’s sanctimony.
When you replace an American flag with a Trump banner and threaten to kill the vice president, it’s hard to believe you really stand for the ideals of justice and fairness that are the foundation of the building you smashed your way into.
Wednesday was a pivotal day in American history.
Hours before the riot, Reverend Raphael Warnock was elected as a senator from Georgia, helping ensure a Democratic senate majority.
Reverend Warnock is the pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the church that Dr Martin Luther King Jr once led.
On a hot summer day in 1963, standing not far from the Capitol steps where Trump protesters taunted cops, Dr King delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech.
It was a plea to the ideals housed in the building behind him.
Black Americans had endured 250 years of slavery and 80 years of Jim Crow terrorism, but Dr King did not try to incite mob rage.
He did not try to stir the crowd of 250,000 – far larger than Trump’s – to occupy the building they stood before.
Unlike last week’s self-deluding mobs, black Americans who listened to Dr King that day in 1963 had truly endured centuries of a “rigged” system and “stolen” votes.
But Dr King appealed to the promise of the American experiment, to the rule of law, to the inexorable power of the ballot.
He was not patient, but he was also not petulant.
He urged the crowd to harness their energy, not indulge their grievance.
Three years ago, I was introduced to a man running for Congress in the state of New Jersey.
Andy Kim, a Korean-American who had never run for office, defeated the Trump-backed incumbent.
He was re-elected in November.
On Thursday, Andy – admittedly a rather anonymous congressman – went viral in photos of him helping clean up after Wednesday’s riot.
“When you see something you love that’s broken, you want to fix it. I love the Capitol. I‘m honoured to be there,” he said.
“How many countless generations have been inspired in that room?
“It really broke my heart and I just felt compelled to do something … What else could I do?”
Trump’s vandals must be punished – each and every one.
Not because of their stupidity or selfishness, but because some trespassing is worse than others.
This is indeed “our house,” and to treat it with anything less than reverence is ensure that this obscenity could happen again.
Larry Hackett is the former editor-in-chief of People magazine, and a contributor to the US morning television news program Good Morning America