THE SUPREME COURT: Tears welled in my eyes as I approached the stairs to the iconic Supreme Court building. I don't know why my emotions were so raw. I do know I am a sucker for pomp, circumstance, history, and tradition. I guess because the Supreme Court, in theory, is above the political fray, it holds a place of esteem in my mind as the branch of government we can count on to get it right. (But not always....Bush did not win that election and Citizen's United is a blow to our democracy.) Sitting in the chambers of the court -- rather a modest room -- moved me deeply. The tour guide was full of inside information, historical facts, and an obvious love for the Court. I bought a pocket Constitution in the gift shop.
THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS: Oh, I do love a library! This is a big, beautiful one. The
building itself is awe-inspiring. It epitomizes all the architectural wonders of our capital city. Stone, marble, sculpture, relief, stained glass, murals, wood, soaring ceilings, wide swooping staircases...and a collection from Thomas Jefferson's personal library on display.
Everywhere we went, on every street, stood huge government buildings we hear about but never really visualize -- The FBI, The Treasury Department, The State Department, Health & Human Services, Department of Agriculture, all the Smithsonian Institute buildings -- even a National Botanical Garden which I'd never heard of and it's fabulous! I felt like a backwoods girl in her first visit to the "big city". I told you I'm a sucker for this stuff. I'd like to have the marble concession (so beautiful!) as well as the security contract for government buildings. We were searched at every entrance to every building; all had barricades of some type surrounding them; often gates, dogs, and armed guards were in evidence and sirens wailed 24/7 as police, fire, and ambulance sped to some disaster or another. Big city. Big city trying to protect itself. It made me sad.
Opinion: In my first D.C. post I posed the question: Can a die-hard Liberal Democrat actually succumb to feelings of patriotism? This is a no-brainer. Questioning our leaders and the policies they enact is the mark of a Democracy. But one would think that any criticism of the Conservative status quo these days is tantamount to treason. I, for one, am a patriotic optimist. I believe that progressive ideas, compassion for others, reason, intellect, and emotionally literate people of integrity will win the day -- regardless of party affiliation. Walking around Washington D.C. I was filled with pride and hoped desperately that the virulent contentiousness of the past couple of decades will subside soon so we can all embrace this Grand Experiment in democracy with humility and hope. This country is mine too. And I love it.
At least, that's the view from here...©