My first real-world experience was when I was 19 and had an internship in DC. I was living with my dormmate Su-Young, who is now one of my best friends. This was my first experience being out in a city on my own working, so of course I became obsessed with DC. I thought I wanted to move there after college and everything (obvi I eventually experienced the glory of New York City, and realized I found the real city for me). I saw the Lincoln Memorial, the WWII Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, FDR Memorial, The Newseum and multiple other museums, and somehow managed to even tour the white house! (back when photos were not allowed inside). Despite seeing all of this, I never had the opportunity to see the Capitol, Library of Congress, or Supreme Court, partially because it was too hot to walk from my dorm over to that end of the National Mall, but also because they are only open Monday to Friday.
Su and I decided that we should return to DC for Memorial day this year because, you should never let a long weekend go to waste and I had been dying to revisit the city, since it had been six years (I’m old now)!!!! Aside from experiencing some serious nostalgia, I wanted to visit a couple of the places I had never been able to visit.
First decided to go visit the National Archives to see the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and The Constitution. (no pictures allowed inside). You have to wait in a couple of lines, but ahh that moment when you get to see the real signatures of our founding fathers.
We were able to tour the Capitol on Monday, even though it was a holiday. I guess on the tour you would normally be able to see The House and The Senate in session, but they weren’t there due to Memorial day. I was till so thankful that we were able to tour the Capitol. It was partly under renovation, but was till so cool looking. The Capitol is filled with different statues of American’s who were significant in our history. Obviously you have George Washington, Adams, and other founding Fathers, but you also have MLK Jr., Rosa Parks, Raegan, Sacajawea, Garfield, many people e you have heard of and many people you have not heard of.
Our Tour guide was so enthusiastic; she was so great. I loved how much she loved American History, it really made the tour so much better. I particularly love George Washington (I’m reading an 800 page biography right now and it’s so good! If you love him you have to read it) and I could tell she admired him for the same reasons I did.
The Rotunda is the architectural and artistic highlight of the Capitol. The dome painting depicts Washington in a throne ascending in to heaven, surrounded by thirteen maidens to represent the thirteen colonies.
Around the rotunda, there are eight paintings of different moments in American history. Included on there is the famous painting by John Trumbull or Washington’s Resigning his Commission. This is such a famous painting because post-Revolution, the new country was about to descend in to chaos, and the new small government was scrambling to figure out what to do. Most people wanted Washington to literally just become the new king of America. Washington had the opportunity to seize a huge amount of power, but instead he resigned (of course, later after much begging from Congress, Washington agreed to be president temporarily for four years – and eventually another four years – this is how the four-year term was created, and the two term limit.) Can you imagine how different American would have been if George Washington had been power hungry and become a king?
I’ve been wanting to visit the Library of Congress for a while now, and I finally had my chance. The Library, is of course stunning, but I was not really aware of the fact that you are not allowed in the main reading room, but instead you are only allowed to look at it form an observatory on the upper level.
What was probably the most interesting part of the library was Jefferson’s personal library. After the original Library of Congress was burnt to the ground in the war of 1812 (you can only imagine what invaluable historic books were lost), Jefferson donated his personal library of over 1200 book to get the library restarted. You can still see many of them today now on display.