Be honest. Just how much do you really know about the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol?
Probably not enough. At least not yet.
All of us know something, assuming we've at least viewed the images of the crowds ignoring barricades, swarming the stairs of the Capitol, breaking windows and doors and streaming into those halls.
We saw the American flags and political banners, or the poles that bore them, being weaponized against Capitol Police. We heard the chants to "hang Mike Pence," the vice president at the time, and we know some in the crowd were searching with apparent ill intent for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Any member of Congress and any law enforcement officer was believed to be a target for the more violent attackers.
While some participants may have just been swept up in the moment, others in the decidedly pro-Trump crowd were there with a purpose. They intended to interrupt the scheduled certification by Congress of the 2020 Electoral College vote -- and did.
Their actions delayed into the evening the official vote count that ultimately led to the peaceful transfer of power between Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden.
The Congress did its duty, certifying the vote that made Biden president, despite the "big lie" that Trump promoted then and encourages to this day that he, not Biden, won that election.
Nothing short of American democracy itself hung in the balance on that day and is threatened still.
Why did the insurrection happen? Who was behind it? Was the attack part of a conspiracy to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election?
Those questions and many more have been asked for the 17 months since the attack.
For 11 of those months, a select committee of the House has investigated what happened and why, conducting more than 1,000 interviews in the process.
Finally, the panel is prepared to report its findings to the rest of Congress and to the American public.
They will start the process at 7 p.m. (Central) Thursday with a televised hearing that will offer video evidence and live testimony that promises to answer at least some of the many lingering questions about the insurrection.
A second hearing is scheduled on Monday and more will follow this month. A final hearing is planned in September before this year's midterm elections.
The committee will also eventually issue a definitive written report, including recommendations to prevent similar attacks in the future.
The nine-member committee, appointed by Pelosi alone after disputes with Republican leaders in the House, is made up mostly of Democrats and chaired by Bennie Thompson, D-Miss.
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., the committee vice chair and one of the two Republicans who agreed to serve, has nonetheless played a prominent role in the investigation.
Last weekend, she encouraged Americans to pay attention to the upcoming hearings.
"People must watch and they must understand how easily our democratic system can unravel if we don't defend it," said Cheney.
She is absolutely right.
These hearings are certainly historic, seeking to establish for future generations just what happened and why.
But the people who most need to know those answers are the Americans of today, the ones who will, with their votes, guide the nation out of this unsettling period of disunion.
So, consider sitting down on Thursday and during subsequent hearings with an open mind.
There are plenty of distractions to keep you away, but think of it as a civic duty to hear the testimony, to examine the evidence.
Listen the way you would if you were impaneled on a jury and wait to hear all the evidence before you judge it.
Maybe let yourself be reminded of what the people of Ukraine are enduring to preserve their war-torn country.
All you're being asked to do is watch and learn from these hearings, then use your vote to safeguard your own democracy.
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The Jan. 6 select committee plans to live-stream its hearings at https://january6th.house.gov/. You may also view the hearings gavel-to-gavel on C-SPAN. Several major networks and cable news programs are expected to carry the first hearing live in its prime-time slot.