To the Sicknick family, a family who has lost someone precious, a son and brother who was killed in a violent rampage: you put out a statement shortly after Brian’s death, asking that his death not be politicized. You’re right – it shouldn’t be — for many reasons, but most notably because his death – his murder – had nothing to do with politics. The riot itself had nothing to do with politics or ideology. It was only about rage, violence, and the angry delusions that had been perpetrated by a man whose lust for control is insatiable and whose cruelty is boundless. Donald Trump isn’t motivated by politics. He has no ideology. He never did. All he has is a narcissist’s ego that will do anything, at any cost, to manufacture an impression that he’s powerful. 

 Brian shouldn’t have died on that day – not at 42 years of age, and not in the way he did, being hit over the head with a fire extinguisher by someone who would never be able to give a coherent reason for why he or she was even there. Brian knew why he was there – to protect the Capitol. To protect a symbol of our democracy. He fought overseas for the country he loved and he put on a uniform every day to guard the government he believed in. The person who killed him knows who they are, and hopefully we will find out who they are. 

The flags at the Capitol building were lowered to half-staff very soon after Brian’s death and I hope you take from that an indication that people across this country, people you will never meet, are weeping over your loss. It took 4 days for the White House to lower their flags, and then, I’m sure, only because it kept being mentioned in the media. Donald Trump’s utter brutality in inciting the riot was being matched by his cruelty in ignoring Brian’s death. The White House didn’t suddenly catch up to compassion, they just caught up to the bad image they were sending out. I hope you turn away from the memory of those flags flying at full staff days after Brian died. I hope you forget Donald Trump’s silence. I hope you think instead of the millions of people whose hearts ache for a man they never met and who died a hero. Grief is a lonely place to reside. It helps to blink away the tears sometimes and realize you aren’t as alone as it seems you are.

 Charles Sicknick, in speaking about your son, you said, “I’m supposed to die first. Not my son. I’ll never get over this.”

 No, you won’t. But maybe sometimes in the dead of night, when you lie awake with memories of your boy running through your mind, you’ll hear, when the wind pauses and the air is still, an echo of people grieving along with you – the quiet fall of their tears and the weight of their sighs as they mourn a day that should never ended the way it did.  


  1. Ronald Reagan Ravenell says:

    Black Woman Names Black Son Ronald Reagan

    Dear Patti Davis:

    Although this is only my second visit to your commentary blog, your writing continues to inspire me. I came here today for your perspective regarding the recent political climate in our country. “Patti will have an interesting view,” I said to myself. “She always does,” I thought! Your writing reminds me of some of my favorite literary contemporaries. Your creativity with story arcs and use of vivid metaphors reminds me of Mailer, Thoreau and Emerson respectively. Your narration is comparable to Morrison, believe it or not!

    In wake of the recent push to remove racist names from buildings and other monuments, I often get asked the questions, “Why did your Black mom name her Black son after Ronald Reagan? Are you going to change your name? Are you Republican? Many times, I find myself hesitating before I answer. I might be the only Black man in America named after Ronald Reagan, so I am patient with asinine questions. My mom gave me millions of reasons to be proud of my name. I also tell people I am not republican nor do I intend to ever change my name. I have lost a little faith in the political system and I haven’t voted since 2012. Hopefully, my disposition will change soon!

    I would like to end this letter with a request. With your late father’s birthday looming, will you please find it in your heart to write a heartfelt note that includes many reasons why I should continue to be proud of sharing the name Ronald Reagan! Feel free to send it to my email, [email protected] or post it here. I intend to return because I love your writing Patti!

    With the warmth of truth,
    Ronald Reagan Ravenell

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