In the Belly of the Beast

I’ve been fortunate to visit Washington, D.C., quite a few times.  The first time would have been 1970, during the Scattergood School Senior trip.  I remember staying in William Penn House then, and attending a session of the Supreme Court, but not much else.  We also went to New York City to visit the United Nations.

Then I visited each year for the seven or eight years I was a member of the General Committee of the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL).  I remember being disappointed the first year to arrive to heavy rains.  William Penn House, where I was staying, had umbrellas for use.  I clearly remember trying to take photos of the U.S. Capitol building while holding the umbrella in one hand, swaying in the wind, while trying to take photos with the other hand.  Byron Sandford, director of William Penn House, got used to me showing up for the 7:30 morning meetings after having been out taking photos at the crack of dawn–I usually was not late!

I’ve always been fascinated by the U.S. Capitol building, and have many photos in all kinds of weather and light conditions.  I enjoy the challenge of getting photos of it at night.

Today was the first time that I was able to actually go into the building (photos here).  I was very impressed with how efficiently so many visitors were given tours at the same time.  They use a headphone system that allows a tour guide to be speaking just to his/her group of about 30.  This allows many, many groups to be in the same area, and still hear what their guide is saying.

The tour begins with a mandatory film about the history of the creation of our government, and of the building, which is really well done.

E pluribus unum–out of many, one.

The film talked about how the country could not come together as one regarding slavery, with the Civil War resulting.  I wonder if we are approaching another conflict rising out of our differences today.



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