Monument to Thomas Trueman Gaff (1854-1923) in St. Paul’s Rock Creek Cemetery, 201 Allison Street NW, Washington, DC. This bronze figure in a hooded robe was sculpted by Jules B. Dechin in Paris, 1922. Gaff’s epitaph reads “EXCEPIT ILLUM MAGNA, ET AETERNA PAX”, which is Latin for “Welcomed by a great and everlasting peace”.
I’ve always loved libraries, from my days as a kid browsing the shelves after school, to being fascinated with my grandpa’s old books, to my college years and beyond, so the Library of Congress was one of the first places I wanted to visit when I moved to this area. What I didn’t realize was how it is just as much a museum as a functional library.
Unfortunately, the library’s oldest collection of books has been devastated by fire several times, first in 1814 and again in 1851. The second fire ruined many of the over 6,000 books Thomas Jefferson personally donated. An ongoing exhibition of Jefferson’s library in the main Thomas Jefferson Building shows 2,000 original volumes, as well as thousands of replacements and indicates which books are still missing. Other exhibits include a display on women’s suffrage, Rosa Parks, and comic book art. You can even see a copy of the Gutenberg Bible.Continue reading “A Trip to the Library of Congress”
No visit to Washington, DC is complete without seeing the U.S. Capitol Building, which is open to the public and more accommodating to visitors since the addition of a multi-million dollar visitor center in 2008. There are restricted areas, of course, and places you can only go with a congressperson or senator, but you don’t have to have any special connections to see public areas of the building, including the crypt and rotunda.
My mother-in-law was able to score us a tour with her congresswoman’s intern, which was preferable to standing in line. He graciously took us through the tunnels, which features a display of student artwork from all 50 states, and all public areas. Senators and congressmen travel to and from their offices and the Capitol via underground tunnels, so they don’t have to share the street with peasants like us.Continue reading “A Trip to the U.S. Capitol Building”
Home to our chief executive, the White House is a treasure-trove of historic artifacts and artwork rivaling the country’s best museums.
I recently had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tour the White House in Washington, DC. Its simple neoclassical architecture and humble name hide the beauty within. Inside is a treasure trove of history and art rivaling the best museums in the country. Getting in, of course, is difficult but only requires submitting a request through your Member of Congress. Tours are free and security is tight–I couldn’t even bring my regular camera and had to settle for using my cell phone camera.
The self-guided tour starts in the East Wing, which was built in 1942, and goes past the presidential movie theater and a small gift shop into the ground floor. Visitors are allowed to view but not enter the Vermeil Room, China Room, and Library, before heading upstairs.
On the ground floor, visitors walk through the East Room, which is a large open hall, to the Green, Blue, and Red rooms (all decorated in their respective colors), through the State Dining Room, to the Entrance Hall. The Cross Hall, where the President sometimes holds press conferences or makes announcements, was roped off during our visit.Continue reading “A Trip to the White House”
Bronze monument to Frederic A. and Florence Sheffield Boardman Keep in St. Paul’s Rock Creek Cemetery, 201 Allison Street NW, Washington, DC. Frederick (1858-1911) was a prominent Washington, DC businessman whose wife, Florence (1867-1954), was the sister of Mabel T. Boardman, a founder of the American Red Cross. James Earle Fraser sculpted the male and female figures, which were installed on a base of Stoney Creek granite in 1920.
After weeks of pointless delay, the House of Representatives finally voted on Wednesday to deliver the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate, which they did a little after 5:30pm. With solemn ceremony, a procession marched from one wing of Congress to the other, where Senator Lisa Murkowski (R) laid out the ground rules for the impeachment trial of President Trump.
I watched live news coverage as the House procession wound its way through corridors and the Capitol rotunda, where I had been just yesterday. My mother-in-law was visiting, so my wife and I took her to Washington, DC, where she had scored us a tour of the White House and the Capitol Building. Tuesday’s weather was gloomy, but today was bright, sunny, and unseasonably warm.
There couldn’t have been a greater contrast between the mood inside the Capitol and the mood outside. Outside, tourists went about their usual business, laughing, having fun, jogging, walking dogs, and snapping pictures. We even saw a troupe of Buddhist monks taking selfies at the Lincoln Memorial. Our Uber drivers were chatty and talked about how long they had lived in DC.
Aside from one young woman wearing a pro-impeachment t-shirt, there was nothing to indicate a momentous event was underway in the Capitol. No one was arguing, looked sad or somber, protesting, or fighting in the streets. Just a bunch of people enjoying beautiful weather in our nation’s Capitol, like it was any other day.Continue reading “Reflections on Capitol Hill During Impeachment”
On a beautiful autumn day at the end of October 2010, an estimated 210,000 people gathered in the National Mall to watch television for four hours. At least, that’s what it felt like from my position behind the sound stage in front of a giant flat screen TV flanking the main stage at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.
As the crowd filtered onto sections of lawn separated by short metal fences, the jumbotrons played clips from episodes of the Daily Show and the Colbert Report in the run up to the rally. As the morning wore on, the crowd grew until it stretched all the way back to the Washington Monument and spilled into the parkway at the edges of the Mall.
It felt like the buildup to a momentous occasion, and for many people there (some of my friends included), it felt like we were witnessing an important event, a statement, or the birth of a new political movement.