Monday, June 29, 2009
When I was a teenager in 1965 my dad and I went on a self guided tour of the United States Capitol. In those days you could just walk up the steps and go anywhere you wanted as long as it was not on the floor of the Senate or House of Representatives and we went everywhere even into the basement. Even then I was a political junkie. Well, 44 years later our daughter took her mother and I on a private tour of the Capitol and even to the House floor. If some one had told me 44 years ago that a daughter of mine would work on Capitol Hill and take me on a tour I would have said it was a dream! Well, dreams do come true in America.
Our daughter drove us from her condo to the Capitol and with her parking pass and identification and an inspection of her car trunk we were allowed to go through the security barricades and into an underground parking garage under a House office building. We then went up to her office and talked to some of her coworkers about our trip to New York City. We then took the underground train used by Congressmen to the Capitol. At the Capitol we went to the new Capitol Visitors Center.The CVC is underground on the side of the Capitol facing the Library of Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court Building. It has skylights which give a view of the Capitol dome. It cost a ton of money but is very impressive and is a welcome addition to the Capitol. We went through the museum showing how the Capitol has changed through the years and then I saw the podium (small table) used by Lincoln when he delivered his Second Inaugural Address and which is seen in pictures of that inauguration. I was very impressed. We saw the stand on which Lincoln's casket was set upon when he "Laid in State" in the Capitol. It is the same stand used for Ronald Reagan when he "Laid in State." We then saw a short movie on the history of Congress and the Capitol which even cynics find inspiring and then went into the Capitol itself for a tour guided by our daughter. We saw the new statue of Ronald Reagan ( Each State can place two). We saw where Lincoln sat when he was in Congress as a Congressman. Since Congress was in recess we got to go on the the House Floor. This is were the President delivers his State of the Union speech.
We then left the Capitol and had lunch at a restaurant/bar across the street called Bullfeathers. It is a popular "watering hole" for lawmakers and lobbyist. In fact we were met there by the daughter of my wife's cousin who is a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association. We had a nice conversation about our extended family. For the record the lobbyist had water and I picked up the tab for our lunch and drinks.
We then went to the Library of Congress and then to Union Station looking for a Lincoln picture for our son's birthday.
We then went back to our daughter's place to get ready for our road trip to Kentucky.
After dark our daughter and I drove over to near the Lincoln Memorial. We parked across the street from the Federal Reserve and walked through the grass over to the Vietnam Memorial. I always get emotional when I go there. I also love the statue of the three GI's that was added as a compromise to those that didn't like "The Wall." From there we walked up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with Abe looking down on us. We looked back across the reflecting pools to see the Washington Memorial and the Capitol both lit up in a row. The Memorial was full of tourist some not showing the respect I believe should be given. I always take off my hat when entering the memorial and speak in a whisper. I went to my left and reread the Gettysburg Address carved in the side of the Memorial. I then went to my right and reread his Second Inaugural carved in stone.
......The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
We took some pictures and walked to the outside rear of the Memorial to look across the Potomac river to Arlington and the Lee home high above on the hill. I am not a religious person but I look to Lincoln in times of crisis.He gives me strength to deal with the ups and downs of life. I believe that if Lincoln could keep his courage in the terrible days of the Civil War I can deal with my problems that pale in comparison. We then walked over to the Korean War Memorial. The memorial to the "forgotten war." What with the news about North Korea developing a nuclear bomb and missiles to deliver them I couldn't help but wish we had followed Douglas MacArthur's advice and won the Korean War. Instead President Truman fired him and we have to deal with this mad government 50 plus years later.The statues of the American GI's are very haunting. I have a picture of them on one of my computer screen savers and never tire of looking at it. We then walked by the reflecting pool and back through the Vietnam Memorial on the way back to the car. It was a special time with our daughter. Just the two of us.