“Liberty’s too precious a thing to be buried in books, Miss Saunders. Men should hold it up in front of them every single day of their lives and say: I’m free to think and to speak.”
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Jefferson Smith
Recently we (minus one jealous undergrad) had the most incredible visit to Washington, DC.
I have long loved the capital of our country and have been able to visit a few times. We’ve also passed through countless times on the way to Baltimore, and I was surprised to learn my husband never had the opportunity to visit despite his father’s distinguished military career. Of course my wheels began to turn, and I started making plans!
The chips fell into place. Red was out of school, we were already heading to Hopkins so it was a perfect time for a stop in DC! I was incredibly lucky to find a great place on Airbnb. If you haven’t heard of Airbnb I highly recommend learning more about it! I uncovered the most fabulous find; my entire family was ecstatic and in awe of this little apartment gem. We were mere steps from the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress, and the Capitol. It was wonderful.
The absolute best part of our trip was catching up with an old high school friend, Mr. Brian Summers. Brian has been setting Washington on fire with his talent! We never expected our personal tour of the Capitol to be what it turned out to be. It was because of Brian that we had the inside look of a lifetime!
Being a historian, Brian was able to tell us great stories about the building of the Capitol, the abolition of slavery, and other monumental times in American history. He showed us things that gave us chills and mesmerized us about our country’s leaders. Some of his accounts were things we learned in classes, while others were amusing stories that are sometimes heard.
He took us behind the scenes through the halls of the Senate and Congress.
The two things that really took my breath away, and caused me to really pause: Standing on the floor of Congress, and being where the President stands while waiting to go out to take the oath of office. No unofficial pictures are ever allowed on the Congressional floor, so we turned over our phones/camera to experience what we’ve only been able to see on TV. It was truly profound. I looked at the seats, the large desk where the speaker sits, and all I could think about was the history that has been made. It’s humbling to think about the speeches that were delivered from that podium, and the great men and women who occupied this room. You could not leave that place feeling anything but proud and patriotic! Red was able to take the walk each President has taken before delivering the State of the Union (and, by the way, we each were handed a copy of the recent SOTU remaining from the evening of the speech). Everything experienced was beyond anything a person can learn from a book; we were ALL students that day. After heading into one of the private cloak rooms, Sarah was determined to be a member of Congress after seeing a freezer full of ice cream! The excitement and enthusiasm was palpable.
Brian showed us an incredible view beyond the arch of a small breezeway – it is where Presidents stand as they await being inaugurated. We were told about President Obama having to take a moment to just breathe, and to take in all of the 1.8 million people who were there for him. Now I do not care what your political views are about any President -you have to admit it is awe inspiring. To stand where Presidents stood before their first day of office goes beyond any political party!
Our last day started with another inside look at the old Senate and ended with us on the balcony of the Speaker of the House.
What would a trip to Washington be without visits to the White House and monuments? It was especially inspiring that we were able to visit the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial on the holiday honoring Dr. King. As we stood in front of each great statue and memorial we were humbled by the words and the reasons behind them all.
We braved extremely cold days and frigid nights! Of course, the time we finally get the opportunity to visit it happens to be the coldest days of the year, and a massive winter storm was lurking. Nevertheless, our time exploring our nation’s capital far exceeded any and all expectation. We will be back to take in so many other aspects we could not fit in this trip! For a first visit to Washington, DC, my husband and youngest daughter were treated to a monumental tour.
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.