Guiding: Lost!

Freedom Gets a Do

The dome of the U.S. Capitol, made of iron and bolted together, was assembled during the American Civil War, a sign from Lincoln, they say, that the Union would prevail.

It did.

Atop the dome is the Freedom Statue, there since 1863, all 15,000 bronze pounds of her.

She faces east, her butt westward, perhaps sending the city a message, and this week scaffolding appeared around her.

It’s time for a periodic inspection and cleaning.

With similar statues they power wash, remove old preservative coatings, repair as necessary, do the re-coat and maybe add some wax, sometimes the same as used in a bowling alley.

I wonder if she could score a strike?


For years now, flights have been coming from all over the U.S., bringing various veterans here to see the war memorials dedicated to them for their valorous service.

They often get a police escort around town and a sure sign of them are crowds of wheelchairs here and there, a reminder that time marches on.

I am touring this week with 8th-graders from the south and yesterday we were at Arlington National Cemetery when several honor guard flights were attending the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

I introduced them to a Vietnam veteran who fought at Da Nang, and a 92-year-old who celebrated his 20th birthday while on an LST in North Africa in 1944.

I always point out that while they might be old, they fought for the world we have today.

16th Street Baptist Church Bombing

On September 15th, 1963, members of the Klu Klux Klan detonated a bomb at the church which killed four young girls.

It is a seminal event in the American fight for civil rights.

The West Building of the National Gallery of Art currently has a mesmerizing exhibit by photographer Dawoud Bey exploring the incident in a most unusual and compelling way.

The exhibit is in the west end of the building on the ground floor.

There is a companion film in the lecture hall where Bey is interviewed about his approach, watch it if you can.

Trump Appears, Sort Of

I think most kids parrot their parent’s political views.

Many of my student groups come from the south and the mid-west.

Though I keep my political views to myself, these kids are quick to express their disdain for all things Trump.

Last night we were walking back from the Pentagon 9/11 memorial, when one very bright student, somewhere behind me, started up with his Trump imitation.

I suspect that many people can mimic Trump briefly but this fellow was a prodigy to the ear.

For ten minutes he was Trump, channeling his gaffes on immigration, hurricanes, taxes and much more.

Had we stopped he would have drawn a crowd and paid for his trip in no time.

Please Don’t Tell My Boss

Guides are not supposed to get lost.

Luckily, I was with clients I have had for years and they are used to my exploring, “let’s go check that out” mentality.

We went into the Madison building of the Library of Congress to see the Madison statue and then I thought we would take the tunnels over to the Jefferson building and to the U.S. Capitol for our tour there.

Kids love tunnels.

Some folks will know that the Jefferson and Madison buildings have different names for the floor on which they connect underground.

The Madison building is (theoretically) divided into four helpful colored cores to keep you from getting lost.

It didn’t work in my case.

Though I have done the tunnel trip numerous times, we took the elevator to the basement level of the Madison building in order to connect with the tunnel to Jefferson on their cellar level.

Call me crazy, but shouldn’t the basement connect with the cellar?

We wandered around the Madisonian labyrinth, seeing hundreds of feet of old library card catalogs while also stumbling onto the biggest world globe I have ever seen.

Having globe-spotted for a bit, including this week’s earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia, someone finally appeared who (very helpfully) reminded me that the connecting floor in Madison is the ground floor, not the basement.

So, off we went, Jefferson bound, none the worse for wear.

Another day, another adventure.





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