By CBS News veteran and former "Face the Nation" anchor Bob Schieffer:
I've covered 13 presidential elections, but I'm 83 now, and the only plan I had for the 2020 election was to paint the magnificent birds along the Georgia coast. I got one done …
… and then the pandemic hit.
So, I turned from the natural world to make paintings about human nature, and it was a heart-breaking picture:
People blocking the sight of bodies being taken from a nursing home in Washington State:
The sad faces of those whose last contact with loved ones would be through a window:
Our trained health care providers and scientists could not hide their despair.
The crisis was also changing our culture, and from the start it was driving us apart. Some saw masks and social distancing as attacks on their freedom, and in Michigan, heavily armed militants stormed the State Capitol.
With every brush stroke I wondered how we had come to this.
The police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis brought waves of Black Lives Matter activists to the nation's streets, and produced the year's most unexpected picture: As protestors were driven from a park near the White House, the president walked into the area, stood before a church, held up a Bible and posed for photographers. He offered no explanation, except to say it was not his Bible.
Black Lives Matter advocates were more direct. They plastered signs everywhere, even on the statues of Confederate generals.
Amidst the turmoil, John Lewis, the towering icon of the civil rights movement, died in July, followed by the passing of another icon, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
And yes, it was all background to the election.
The only nation to hold an election during a civil war managed to hold one during a pandemic, and Americans voted in record numbers. Crowds filled the streets for Joe Biden's victory, though the election has revealed a nation deeply divided.
The vaccine may beat the virus; healing the divide may be harder.
The president's attempt to overthrow the election has been blocked at every turn, but he and his allies press on.
Yet, through it all, our most famous statue still stands tall, reminding us who we are, and that our democracy must never be taken for granted.
Story produced by Ed Forgotson. Editor: David Small.