After the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, an image of Rep. Andy Kim rocketed across the internet: The South Jersey Democrat was crouched in the Capitol Rotunda in his suit and tie, sweeping up debris.
Now the blue suit he bought on sale from J. Crew is going to the Smithsonian to be part of the museum’s collection, Kim said Tuesday, the six-month anniversary of the attack.
“I told the Smithsonian yes to donating the blue suit because the telling of the story of Jan6 isn’t optional, it is necessary,” Kim wrote in a viral Twitter thread that had more than 23,000 likes within hours of his posting it Tuesday morning. “There are many stories of Jan6. Mine is just one. We cannot heal as a nation unless we have truth. Let truth be truth.”
In the 17-part thread, he elaborated on the suit and what it means to him, saying he initially bought it off the rack to wear to President Joe Biden’s inauguration, and then wore it to the Capitol on Jan. 6 to certify the election results.
After the riot by Trump supporters trying to overturn the election, he was still wearing it when he helped clean up the Rotunda. “Like my suit, what I did on Jan 6 on its face was unremarkable. I saw a mess and cleaned it,” Kim, of Burlington County, wrote Tuesday. “Neither my suit nor my actions are on their own worthy of memory, but the story didn’t end there.”
He said he next wore the suit on Jan. 13 — it still had dust on the knees as he voted to impeach Trump for his role in relentlessly fueling the lies that led to the insurrection. Then, Kim wrote, he put it away and never wanted to wear it again, until cards starting pouring in from around the country thanking him for what he had done.
“People wrote saying the blue suit gave them a sense of resilience and hope,” Kim said.
Donating the suit, he said, will show there was more to Jan. 6 than the riot.
“The story of that day wasn’t just destruction,” he wrote. “There was hope and resilience. The Capitol Police were heroes that saved lives. Colleagues and staff showed bravery. I hope those stories are told.”
And he said it would help preserve an event that some are already trying to obscure.
“Instead of trying to erase history they don’t like after the fact, politicians should just act in a way that doesn’t produce such shameful results. It’s not hard to not incite or cover up an insurrection,” Kim wrote. “Smithsonian is entrusted to help tell the story of America. It isn’t always a pretty story, but it is an unfinished story with the persistent hope that it will improve and that we can repair our faults.”