The Colorado Democrat certainly didn’t expect to be returned to his days in battle as a U.S. Army ranger as he sat above the floor of the House.
But there he found himself on Jan. 6, surrounded for more than 30 minutes by a mob attacking the US Capitol, unconsciously returning to a thought he thought he had left behind after taking off his military uniform more than a decade ago.
While Crowe, who was famous in the photo for helping a colleague during the attack, spent the last week battling an injury shared by so many people in the Capitol that day, he is also struggling with a broader issue: what’s next.
The first response to the floor in the hall exactly one week after the attack was the impeachment of President Donald Trump, a moment determined by the sense of unity in the Democratic Chamber, driven entirely by the events of that day, Crowe said.
“We turned that experience into action and focused it on determination, I think,” Crowe said in an interview with CNN, noting that the group is “more united than ever.”
Then there’s the mental aspect – something Crowe says has spilled over into colleagues in text circuits, group scales, and meetings over the past few days, especially among those trapped in the hall that day.
“Trauma, every trauma affects everyone,” said Crowe, who has served in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. “No one is immune to it and everyone reacts differently, so you just have to be aware of it and seek the help you need.”
But he is also struggling with what follows for the country, particularly through his role in Congress.
He has pressured the government’s accountability service, a non-partisan congressional oversight body, to launch an in-depth investigation into the events leading up to the attack – something he believes will begin soon.
Angered by the lack of public information about the attack by federal officials, he called Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy for more details – and then immediately informed him that he planned to release detailed notes of the conversation (McCarthy signed on the move, although Crowe said that he probably would have done anyway).
“There have been no federal law enforcement or military briefings. None,” Crowe said, explaining his decision to call McCarthy. “And somehow I had it with that.”
Crow has made it clear that he will attend the inauguration and announce his presence on the inauguration platform, even against the backdrop of heightened security threats made about him and his colleagues over the past few days.
The next steps for the country – and in particular for the US Congress – are less clear.
“There’s a lot of talk about moving forward, which is really important,” Crowe said. “But you can’t move forward without truth and accountability.”
“I still don’t have an answer to that,” Crowe readily admitted.
But Crow works in real time through his own process on how to achieve that goal – one that appears on her face away from anyone’s hands, given the polarized nature of both the country and Congress.
However, there are others that Crowe wants to engage with, but not at the level of a political party.
“I suspect that the key to this will be individual discussions and outreach,” said the second-term congressman.
“It’s going to be a member of a member sitting down and having a very, very honest discussion about what brought us to this point, what responsibilities people are going to take, and what we can do to move forward.”
“I just don’t see the political plus of what she did,” Crowe said in a way that emerged as a combination of respect and wonder. “Which tells me I think she did it on principled and honest matters. And you absolutely have to give credit where credit is due.”
Crow repeatedly clarifies something: he has no answers. At least not yet. He and his family are still struggling with what happened on January 6, as are his colleagues.
This will not disappear in the near future, especially according to him, because the threat is far from over.
“I’m still figuring out how to deal with this with my kids,” Crowe said. “I haven’t fully understood it yet.”
But while the answers aren’t plentiful right now, Crow, if you’re firmly convinced of one thing.
“We have to be brave,” he said. “We have to be present. And we have to show the American people that we will be the leaders this country needs.”