WASHINGTON — She realized her mother’s golden earring was gone as she took off her gas mask, the evacuation of the House chamber underway, and the Capitol under siege. He eventually found the jewelry among the House detritus days later and kept it safe for a year.
Such is how Sarah Ferris of Politico and Joe Lowry of the House Sergeant at Arms’ office met for the first time, on the morning of Jan. 6, 2022.
“I had totally given the earring up for good, and didn’t think it was going to be found,” Ferris said in an interview Thursday. “And so, this was really, one year later, a bright spot in a pretty tough year.”
Ferris found herself taking cover in the House gallery on January 6. As Capitol Police drew their weapons, officers ordered reporters, staff, and members of Congress to put on emergency gas masks.
The rage below was unconfined, as rioters tried to break into the chamber.
“We had been told to put on these giant gas masks, and of course, you’re putting on masks, you’re later taking off the hood, and then, I realized I was missing an earring that I had borrowed from my mom,” Ferris said. “And so, I said to myself, ‘oh my gosh! I lost my mom’s favorite earrings.’”
When Ferris left her secure location hours later, she and a colleague tried to find the earring. It was to no avail. They gave up, exhausted from all they had seen and survived.
Enter Lowry, director of emergency preparedness for the House Sergeant at Arms.
Lowry is responsible for much of the emergency planning, equipment, and training for the House community – one of the officials who organized a cleanup of the chamber on January 10.
“There was just sort of stuff everywhere, pens, paper, pocket change, all over the floor,” Lowry recounted. “And I just happened to see this earring, it caught my eye. It was a shiny thing that was out of place.”
While he was surrounded by a moment that annealed into a quieter, yet no less surreal sense of loss, he took a picture of the golden earring and posted it to Twitter.
“If you’re a Member or staffer who lost your earring on Wednesday in the House Gallery while donning your escape hood, I have it,” Lowry wrote. “Would love to return it.”
There were no responses, “crickets,” was how Lowry described it.
Until Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022, when Lowry reposted the image to his account, @PreparednessJoe.
“Oh my gosh that’s MINE!” Ferris tweeted. “I still have the other one!!”
The tweet and response came within two minutes of each other.
“It was pretty incredible to see a person whose job it is to be prepared, and making sure everyone in the Capitol stays safe, taking it upon himself to find this item that he figured meant something to someone,” Ferris offered. “Obviously there’s so much else going on with his job, with his line of work – this really meant a lot.”
Lowry had the earring kept safe at home for the past year, determined to find its owner.
“I looked at it every morning I picked out a tie bar or a pocket square, and, it was just always there,” Lowry said. “So, the anniversary had been on my mind, I just figured, ‘let me put this back on Twitter and see if it resonates with anybody.’”
As for whether Ferris will wear the earrings once again, her answer was emphatic.
“Absolutely,” she exclaimed. “If my mom doesn’t ask for it back, then, I’ll definitely be wearing it again.”
WUSA9's Eric Flack talks to former and current Hill staffers still grappling with the trauma of the attacks on the U.S. Capitol on January 6.