Full of excitement (we’d just experienced a bit of history, after all – see A Day in DC – Part 1), we walked back to John Kerry’s office to collect our things before heading to the Capitol to watch the Senate in session. Minutes later, we sat in the Senate Gallery, absorbing our Congress at work. The room resembled a cocktail party. Only one senator was actually sitting, the others milled about, entering and exiting the room. We saw Kerry, Diane Feinstein and Al Franken. A black cloth and white flowers covered the desk of Senator Bird, who had died two days before our visit. We watched as senators voted to approve US Army General David Petraeus as commander in Afghanistan. As each senator’s name was called, he or she answered “Aye,” which sounded a lot like “Hi,” to my daughter who wondered at this friendly ritual.
Now off we went for a tour of the Supreme Court Building. The building held a special interest for us. William Howard Taft, a distant ancestor of my husband, argued for construction of the building, and his bust is displayed prominently in the entrance to the hall. Although the Supreme Court was not in session, we were able to sit in the chambers, imagining the judges deliberating as we listened to a lecture on the Supreme Court’s history and process. After lunch in the Supreme Court’s basement cafeteria, we headed back to the Capitol building.
Once again we waited in line to go through security. This time though, we lost a water bottle. Though empty, my daughter was instructed to throw away her Sigg water bottle. Leaving it outside wasn’t an option. Nor was hiding it in the bushes. There was no where else to put it, so in the trash it went, and we entered the building.
Streams of people milled the halls and the visitor center of the Capitol Building. Long lines of tourists waited for their tours. Happy we had arranged a tour through our senator’s office, we wandered through the exhibits before meeting Senator Scott Brown’s intern at the gold King Kamehameha statue in the National Statuary Hall at 3 p.m. After a short film, the intern took our family around the Capitol building, pointing out facts and trivia about past presidents and the building itself.
Our tour continued below the building where we hopped on a trolley for the short ride from the Capitol Building back to the Russell Senate Office Building.
All smiles, we disembarked and followed the intern up stairwells and down hallways, past interviews taking place, to Senator Brown’s office.
The office still held photos of Teddy Kennedy, its former inhabitant. We went out on the balcony where our photo was taken before walking back through the office. While signing the visitor book, we heard, “Hello, Senator.” And there was our senator, Scott Brown. After shaking the senator’s hand and having our picture taken with him, we said good-bye and left the building and Capitol Hill.