Many years ago, I was a fledgling teacher near Washington, DC. My apartment was not luxurious but it was a convenient and free launching spot for visitors! So, I had regular visits from friends and family members who wanted to see the nearby sites such as Arlington Cemetery, National Zoo, Lincoln Memorial Mall, and Arlington Cemetery. When my brother, immersed in politics and history, visited, he had one request: to go into the Capital.
So in preparation for his visit, I did some research (not so easy in the days before internet and Google) and determined the best time to visit and how to get into the gallery seats. As I remember, you could not get tickets in advance and had to just be ready and waiting at the right moment, Our visit was carefully planned. After we explored the rotunda and open to the public halls, we made our way to the Gallery waiting area. We surrendered our cameras (it was long ago) and waited for our moment in gallery seats for some long forgotten debate by some long forgotten senator. I do, however, remember that feeling of sitting at the seat of our government where decisions had been made through the history of our country. I do remember my brother's comments as we left had something to do with that feeling he experienced as well.
As I crawled into bed last Wednesday, I was feeling heartbroken over the loss of life as well as the loss of our sense of security. In the future, Our Capital will likely be feeling differently with barriers and restrictions keeping people from ever knowing that feeling of becoming one with history. I had tears in my eyes thinking my grandchildren likely will only know that feeling IF they run for Congress! Then, I remembered that my grandchildren will also not know the feeling of walking freely into schools or an airport either.
It was a seminal moment in our nation's story but I'm trying to be confident that we can help the next generation to understand that our words and our actions matter.