There were a lot of names on that Memorial, it was quite overwhelming. I never expected to be so moved, yet there I was- unable to persuade my eyes from gazing at that haunting black marble, and the names... the names. Then, there was Arlington Cemetery. I would embarass myself trying to quantify in writing how I felt and what was going on inside my little head as I strolled, ever so quietly, up and down hills speckled with white tombstones. If you have never been you should go, it is a sobering reminder/tutor of what was given so that we might simply enjoy a life of freedom.
I began my tour on Friday with a visit to my Congressman, Gene Taylor, of the illustrious state of Mississippi in order to see if I could swing a pass to see the House and Senate in session. Gene was out of the office at the time, but a lovely aide was more than helpful. I was quite embarrased though, as the young lady recognized me from college (The University of Southern Mississippi), and I simply drew a blank. She remembered my name, my fraternity, and judging from the look on her face a few more things that I should have remembered as well- besides her name. I quickly began scanning the desk for a nameplate, but she caught me, and all I saw was a sorority insignia. So, I tried to play it off with "Phi Mu, right?" Well, she wasn't buying it, and I certainly blew that one, but she was gracious enough to still get me some passes. After I left the Congressman's office, I had to stand right outside the door to wait for the elevator, and I overheard her saying to her colleague about how she couldn't believe I didn't remember her from... (such and such). What a shame- she was certainly a cutie. Anyways, enough of my crash and burn stories. I get to the Senate, and I'm watching Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist conduct some formalities for President's Day to the pro temp, and in walks John Warner, the senior Republican senator, from Virginia. Now, the Senate chamber is empty with the exception of Frist, Warner, the pro temp, and a few clerks. Apparently, there is a tradition where someone reads one of Washington's addresses to the Senate every year. Frist was about to adjourn the Senate for the day when suddenly Warner asks for Frist to yield some time to him for more President's day "talk". Frist yields the floor, and Senator Warner begins on a 15-20 minute speech on when he was chosen to read Washington's address back in God knows when. He was saying things like "Yes, I remember that morning quite clearly because I had to walk in three feet of snow for four miles in order to get here..." He basically went on and on about himself conceitedly forever. The clerks, and pro temp were obviously perturbed. Then Senator Warner begins preaching about the War on Terror, the NSA, WMD's, and other various topics. After about 5 minutes Frist kind of looks up at the few, like five of us, who are actually there and laughs, shakes his head, and gives us one of those raising the eyebrows looks as if to say this guy is off his rocker, and heads out of the Senate chamber. Keep in mind Senator Warner is talking to an empty room, there is no one there but him! He has his hands waving about going on and on, speaking to and addressing the Senate body, even individual Senators, but literally speaking to empty chairs. It was one of the weirdest things I had ever seen. Everyone was kind of just lloking around saying, "who is he talking to? what is he doing?" Needless to say, it seems to me the Senate is just a bunch of grandstanding, one of the security personnel told me that was normal for Senators to get "on the record" as having said such and such. Our tax money hard at work ladies and gentlemen!
I then headed to the house Chamber, but they weren't in session so I just kind of piddled around there for a bit and then visited the Supreme Court where I was unable to see a case being argued, but was able to hear a lecture, and tour the actual courtroom. It was much smaller than I had anticipated, yet still maintained a majestic aura about it. That evening I went out with an old friend of mine in dowtown Arlington, where we had drinks, listened to some live music, and reconnected. Saturday brought the Smithsonian museums of Natural History, Art, as well as the National Gallery of Art which had an incredible Cezanne
exhibition. I also took a tour of the Library of Congress where I registered and received my very own Library of Congress Card. I tried to wait in line for the National Archives in order to see the founding documents and perhaps listen to some oral arguments from the Supreme Court, but it was just too cold outside. BRRRRR! It was freaking cold! Saturday night I attended a "Winter Be Damned Party" at the house of the aforementioned friend in downtown Arlington along with a buddy of mine from college who is now an attorney for the Dept. of Justice, who was the best wingman I've ever had. (Appreciate it Josh) Sunday was the day of the monuments and was supposed to end with the Spy Museum. I did the monuments and opted to save the Spy Museum for the next time so I could attend church services with my buddy from college. Sunday also ended with another party at a friend of Josh's house named Jono- "pronounced like Bono with a J". Anybody with a name like that is bound to throw a decent party, and he certainly came through as we all spent most of the night singing and playing piano. It was a good time. Appreciate it Jono and Paul.
Overall impression- D.C. is awesome. The people are great. The singles scene is fantastic. I will be back very soon. Very soon indeed ;-)