Throughout the Newseum -- a museum dediciated to the five freedoms spelled out in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, there are what I think of as "pullout quotes." As for this one, I had to smile. I have known quite a few who perfectly fit this description. I have fit this description. And even though I'm no longer young, I hope I still do.
I promised at least one more post about our trip to Washington, D.C. I could do individual ones on so many related topics. Yes, our nation’s capital is endlessly interesting on many levels. This post will be a wrap with some photos and comments.
I’m saving back two topics for my Courier-Times columns. One runs Sunday about the most moving and memorable thing we saw. Another will run a week from tomorrow about some Hoosier influences in our capital.
My best tip for visiting the capital is to contact your Congressional representatives well in advance (a couple months out if possible) and ask what tickets they can provide. Phone or email works great as they are staffed to expect these calls. You'll provide your Social Security numbers, names and addresses. You tell them when you will be visiting and you'll be assigned dates and times during your stay.
In fact, if you want to go inside The White House, the Pentagon or the FBI Building, you must go through a member of Congress for specific timed tickets. We went through Sen. Joe Donnelly’s office and received tickets to all three as well as gallery passes to the House and Senate.
A Donnelly intern – from Muncie – gave us a personal tour of the U.S. Capitol, complete with a tunnel ride from the Ryan office building to the Capitol. It was entertaining and interesting to walk through an office building full of senators and one by one, pass their offices, as well as experience the tunnel trip – much shorter than walking. And since we had the intern all to ourselves, we learned about what that experience is like, the pecking order of Congressional aides, and what it's like for him to live and work in D.C. in this role.
Who were we to get these tickets? We were simply Americans who planned ahead.
As soon as we completed a thorough tour of the U.S. Capitol, we sat in on the House of Representatives in the gallery for a while. There was nothing dramatic going on in those moments that would make for press headlines but what we experienced was representatives doing the people's business.
There were short speeches about wild fires in North Dakota, an honor presented to a pastor from Louisiana, a California Congresswoman criticizing President Trump, and a voice of support for the President from Texas. 'Merica, folks. Democracy in action.
It was peaceful, respectful, and a look inside what it is like in the House on a daily basis. Many views and opinions, all representing the varied concerns of one nation, working out the messy business of democracy.
In Statuary Hall, in a wing off the Dome, each state provides two statues of figures from history they want most to recognize. They cannot be living to be honored there. Can you guess the two Hoosiers on display? How about author Gen. Lew Wallace from Brookville and Civil War Gov. Oliver P. Morton from Centerville?
Across the street from the Capitol is the Supreme Court. I think it's the most beautiful building in Washington, D.C. No admittance tickets are required here. You simply walk in and look around and there's much to see. The best part, however, you should note: Every hour, there is a half-hour lecture inside the Supreme Courtroom where you'll get an overview of how the court works, and learn about its history.
Two posts ago I did a lengthy piece on The White House, but here's two more photos I didn't include previously.
Here's the outside of the Newseum. If anyone has any doubt about the building's theme, it's spelled out. This was my number-one destination. It is a privately funded site, so there is a fee. But the Berlin Wall and the 9/11 exhibits here are worth the fee alone.
Another favorite stop is Ford's Theatre. The building was closed for more than a century. Today, however, it is restored inside the theatre to how it was when Lincoln was assassinated. The basement contains a wonderful museum with artifacts such as the gun that killed Lincoln and the top hat he wore that night along with the blood-stained pillow on which he died across the street.
Directly across the street from Ford's Theatre is the House Where Lincoln Died. Yes, that is what it was known as for many years. The mortally wounded president was brought in following being shot and there he passed. The property was much later purchased by the U.S. Upon Lincoln's death it was utteredin this room the famous phrase: "Now he belongs to the ages." Some think the actual quote was, "Now he belongs to the angels." Guess we'll never know for sure.
Very close to Ford's Theatre is the FBI Building. The public exhibit here has been closed since 9/11 until three months ago. We were fortunate to have tickets from our Congressman on the day we visited as we got to witness a group of FBI agents being tested for their shooting abilities. They are required to pass tests every three months to make sure their skills are sharp.
Fascinating displays are found here, including those relating to notorious bad guys such as John Dillinger and the Boston Marathon bomber. Long-time director J. Edgar Hoover's desk is on display. It's a wonderful tour.
We flew into D.C., having purchased an Expedia discount package months in advance. We decided to rely solely on the D.C. Metro system to get us around. Even so, expect a lot of walking. But it's an effective way to get around.
How do you find accommodations for D.C.? We went with a package several months ago through Expedia. We took an early Monday flight and returned to Indy around midnight Thursday night / Friday morning. It worked great.
We stayed at the George Washington University Inn near the Foggy Bottom Metro stop. Bonus: the stop is exactly at the GWU Hospital and steps inside the front door you'll find a Starbucks, cafeteria and public restroom. We opted for cafeteria coffee over Starbucks and even ate there a few times for convenience. The employees were super nice -- one even had a Noblesville connection.
Foggy Bottom is the GWU stop and we enjoyed seeing the students heading to and from classes. Our inn was a block and a half away on a residential street. It was perfectly serviceable but not particularly memorable otherwise, aside from the cold lemon-lime water in the lobby, quite welcome when returning hot and tired on a late afternoon.
Here's an elephant from the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum. Big guy.
I also want to shout out to how helpful and friendly an untold number of people were -- strangers all -- of various races, heritages and economic realities. What we have in common as human beings is so much stronger than what separates us.
I think the national media fuels a fire that isn't always there, at least and certainly not in the peaceful daily lives of those we encounter and enjoy randomly throughout this great land of the United States of America.
We saw two protests -- IF you want to call them that. Inside the Capitol were some African Americans wearing shirts that read this: "Trump is not racist."
And, while resting in a park across from The White House, this fella slipped on the mask and walked past us. Waving.
'Merica, folks. All views welcome here.