The U.S. Capitol

We only took one guided tour during our time in Washington D.C., and it was significant…the US Capitol building!

The compass set in the walkway outside is pretty cool:

We got to see the room that originally housed the Supreme Court:

Every place you walk through in the building is imposing and beautiful:

A highlight of a Capitol tour is visiting the Rotunda…it’s such an immense space, and you realize how many other tours are going on at the same times as yours!

The central painting…well, it basically shows George Washington ascending to godhood wearing a Snuggie!

No, really!

Every state gets to donate two statues to the Capitol collection. Many of them (including one of the contributions from Illinois, Frances Willard), are located in Statuary Hall. Not all of them are displayed there, though, because they ran into problems with the floor not being able to support the weight of the collected statues not just once, but twice. So there are also statues scattered throughout the building…I’m showing a mix of locations here. One of the most moving pieces in Statuary Hall is of Chief Standing Bear, especially when you hear the story of how Chief Standing Bear, who was detained at Fort Omaha when he tried to return his son’s remains to their ancestral lands for burial, tried to sue, only to be denied because he was not considered a person under the current law. He challenged that decision and made a beautiful speech, in which he said: “My hand is not the color of yours, but if I pierce it, I shall feel pain. If you pierce your hand, you also feel pain. The blood that will flow from mine will be the same color as yours. The same God made us both. I am a man.” The judge rightly determined that he was indeed a person, and Chief Standing Bear went on to bury his son among their people, and he was eventually buried there as well.

Statuary Hall is a pretty cool place. even if you’re not focused on the statues!

The original model of the Statue of Freedom (the bronze statue that sits atop the Capitol dome) is on display in Emancipation Hall at the Visitor Center:

You can’t ignore the mistakes of the past, and I was happy to see this acknowledgment:

I had toured the US Capitol when I visited D.C. as a child something like 35 years ago, and my memories were vague and different. It was very exciting to go back as an adult and see different things and really understand what I was looking at!

Markels Making Magical Memories–Day Four

Washington D.C.; 13,283 steps

Our second day in Washington D.C. was much less frenzied, which was probably a good thing, because after walking almost 17 miles the day before, our feet were tired! We did get a slightly earlier start heading to the now-familiar train station, and this time, I really noticed stuff as we passed by…I especially liked the mid-century design of the airport:

The reason for our early departure? We were scheduled for a tour of the Capitol, and we wanted to make sure we were there with plenty of time!

It was amazing to be in the building. I’ll share full details of the tour later, but for now, here’s a peek at the grandeur of the Rotunda:

We learned that every state gets to donate two statues to the Capitol statuary collection, and we found one from Illinois in Statuary Hall. It’s of Frances Willard, and was the first statue of a woman added to to the Capitol collection, which I think is pretty cool!

Proof we were all there:

After our tour, we headed across the street to the Library of Congress. The sheer magnitude of the building is dizzying!

We walked past a protest outside of the Supreme Court on our way to the National Portrait Gallery (and we were all thankful that no major decisions were made while we were still in town!).

Our main purpose at the Portrait Gallery was seeing the pictures of the presidents (the other gallery we were interested in visiting was closed for renovations, which became a common theme for our time in D.C.).

I don’t actually know what this is called, but it looked really cool!

There was a train station right across from the Portrait Gallery, which was good news for us, because we were kind of over walking at that point. We had originally planned to visit Arlington National Cemetery that afternoon to see the changing of the guard, but there was a lot of construction which made us too late to really see anything, so we settled for a glimpse of the Pentagon on the way back to our hotel, where we read about the Unknown, the meaning behind the changing of the guard, and the Arlington Ladies.

Up next: A visit to George Washington’s Mount Vernon before the next leg of the trip!