A gentle reminder ...

The goal of this blog initially was for Mr. Mc to show his students and friends what he doing while in Pennsylvania and DC in 2011. Now it's being used as a place for him, travelling colleagues and former students to discuss edumacation and history related "stuff" as well as ... well, anything which pops into his head. Mr. Mc would never knowingly embarrass either the school he loves or the family he is devoted to. By joining in the discussion, he expects the same of you.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A day in the Senate ...

We were up at dawn this morning and trekked to the US Capitol for the first half of our time with Congress. We were honored by being invited to sit in the 'well' of the Senate. The only way you can enter is as a guest of a senator. We were the guest of Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. I sat in the chair occupied by New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingham. (Thank you Sen. Bingham for the loan of your seat) Sen. Alexander, who wrote the legislation which founded the Presidential Academy six years ago, spoke to us from the floor of the Senate for about 15 minutes. You can't but help to reflect on what it might be like to be sit at those desks and make those decisions. Last night, President Obama and Speaker Boehner held separate press conferences regarding competing outlooks and the debt ceiling debate.Yesterday, they were making me really really frustrated with their intractability, but today, I decided I had to cut them a little slack. These and women and men who serve, by in large, are earnestly and honestly trying to serve the country in a difficult and corrosive time. We've been talking in the sessions about looking at history from a high road or low road. Those moments in the well of the Senate reminding me of what a wonderful and messy thing this American experiment is.
The pictures you see below are not mine. You are not allowed to bring cameras onto the Senate floor and so I left my camera at home. The rest of the Capitol is photo friendly but I pulled these from the Library of Congress, Architect of the Capitol and National Archives websites.
Tomorrow is the morning at the House of Representatives and Library of Congress.

This is a shot from the Senate gallery. we were in the 'well' of the senate. Sen. Bingham sits almost dead center, three rows back-you can see only part of the desk in this picture.

This is a typical Senate desk. To temper your curiosity, they remind you not to open the desk. That would be considered disrespectful to that Senator's privacy. It is temping, though.

Senators will scratch their names in the bottom of their desks. As 'honored guests' of Sen. Alexander, it would been rude to lay on your back and see who sat where you sat. I can't say I wasn't curious though.

This is the mural on the ceiling of the U.S. Capitol. No image I found does it justice.

This is part of the detail of the ceiling. The mural is titled The Apotheosis of George Washington. GW is in the lower center portion of this detail. Apotheosis means exultation and exultation of a person to the rank of god. He sits between goddesses Victoria and Liberty with 13 maidens. The 13 maidens represent ... yeah, the first batch of states.

Each state has been invited to contribute two statues to the Capitol building. President Eisenhower sits in the Rotunda.

The other statues sits in the Hall of Statues in the old house of Representatives Chamber. John James Ingalls was a Kansas Senator for 18 years and was so well respected that he was named President pro tempore of the Senate in 1887. There is a move to replace Sen. Ingalls with a statue of Amelia Earhart.

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