Part 167- Washington D.C. Trip

Summer break ended a few days ago and so school has once again begun. However, today’s post is not about what high school is like or anything. Instead, I’m talking about my very last summer trip of the year.

A little more than a week ago, for the last trip of the summer, my family and I went up east to New Jersey as well as other states nearby such as Pennsylvania and New York. But, that still isn’t the main focus of today’s post. The main focus was in fact the highlight of the trip. A visit to Washington D.C.

Our trip included staying in D.C. and taking a tour of the White House as well as the Capitol building. Unfortunately, due to - I’m assuming- the weather accident with lightning in front of the White House, our White House tour was rescheduled to a later date we already had plans for. To sum it up, we could not visit the White House. We could see it from a barricade and see its white exterior illuminate the dark night sky, but we couldn’t go inside and tour the actual building.

Apart from that, we did get to tour the Capitol - which I am extremely grateful for- as well as visit many other places such as the Lincoln Memorial, National Archives, and the National Museum of American History. This post is about what D.C. was like, and what I thought of it.

I’ve wanted to go to D.C. for a long time. Okay maybe for a few years now, but I’ve still been really set on visiting it sometime soon. The main reason was because the last time I went was when I was still a toddler, and I have no recollection of doing so. But I also wanted to visit D.C. because of the show The West Wing.
If you don’t know what it’s about I’ll summarize really quickly. The West Wing is a political drama series on how fictional Democratic President Josiah Bartlet and his presidential advisers and staffers try to run the country. It shows different political scenarios such as working through two presidential terms, political threats, scandals, other possible scenarios, and even the election race to succeed President Bartlet. I’ve always loved The West Wing and it’s one of the things that have inspired me to become a lawyer or just someone who works in the political field one day. I dreamed of one day working in the West Wing or even in D.C. and that still remains as one of my goals for the future.

Another reason for wanting to visit D.C. was because I had taken U.S. History this year and was really interested in the subject. After learning about the struggles our founding fathers went through to create this government simply for the people, I wanted to see the buildings where the same principles are applied today, 300 years later. I think because of taking that course, I had become more appreciative of not only my country but also for what it was established on. That made me more perceptive towards what we saw, and also allowed me to make better connections to what I learned. Side note: I now cry when I hear the national anthem. I- Yeah. Oh the things one history class has done to me. I mean it’s not bad. I think it’s a good thing that I actually know more about my country and I really appreciate the principles for what it was built on as well as am proud as to how we got this far. If I cry by remembering all that then so be it.

Enough about how I cry during the national anthem. Let’s actually get into the overview now.

Honestly I’m not sure what I was expecting from D.C. Whenever I hear about it I always imagine the Capitol and White House only some distance from each other and then there are a bunch of other government buildings and monuments there as well. It is like that but also different. For example, I did not expect to be able to calmly take a walk under the shade of huge trees while drinking a slushy right next to the Department of Justice. I could just walk by and wave up at the windows and be like, “Oh hello Attorney General Garland, how are you today?” I doubt that’s even possible and I would look like an absolute fool, but the idea does amuse me. Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not trying to seem disrespectful towards a government official or the employees. I’m just saying it was really unexpected to be able to walk right next to such an important building as if it was normal. 

Me standing in front of the
Department of Justice

If you remember, I had visited India near the end of 2021 and early 2022 after 7 years. During that trip my parents and I visited New Delhi and saw the Parliament of India, Rashtrapati Bhavan, and many other government official buildings/houses from afar. That time I was surprised about how open and nearby it was. I think that was how I thought D.C. would be. Boy was I wrong. I only got to see the Parliament from a distance and yet I was walking right next to the White House. (Not that close but still a much closer distance than I could in India.)

Apart from D.C. being full of government buildings and monuments and museums, it does have a bit of life to it. We always think of these officials as powerful and they are always making decisions that we either do or don’t agree with when they are also human like us. People in D.C. may be officials or employees but they also have normal lives. They also like minimal spice Indian food and Starbucks as well. *Ahem*

First let’s talk about the Capitol tour. Huge thank you to Senator Cornyn for getting us the opportunity for this tour as well as having one of his staffers guide us around. I would say it was different from my expectations. From a Capitol tour, I was expecting maybe how the Senate or House works and what their daily basis is. That was what a Capitol tour first meant to me. Instead, we got a building tour. We learned about the architecture of the Capitol, the statues that decorate the interior, background to the many murals and paintings, as well as how different events in history have shaped it to how it is today. I’d say I was more relieved. I was expected to ask questions during the tour and I was extremely nervous on what to ask or share an insight if it was on how Congress worked. I do know how it works, but I was worried that the amount I knew wouldn’t be enough or I may ask something stupid or say something incorrect. I found the tour guide extremely impressive and I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of her. I also felt this sort of pressure to impress her and ask really high level questions. I think that’s why I felt so nervous to ask a question at the beginning. But throughout the tour that pressure slowly reduced and it was easier to do so. I found myself wanting to know more and tried to let that fear go. I still do think I could have asked better questions and I am disappointed at myself for not doing so. But I am happy that I was able to gather the courage to do so.

The Capitol is absolutely beautiful. I love how everything ties back to history. It’s like the Capitol is a sort of temple to thank our founding fathers and historical figures for the impact in our country. Like, there’s George Washington almost everywhere. Statues, murals, paintings, etc. The more I think about it it does feel like a temple. Every small detail is built based on how our country started to grow, bad or good. There’s not much from current events except for some women’s rights statues and such. Everything else is designed with the idea of kind of thanking the things that made our country how it is today. For example, there are American tobacco plants carved all over the building. Tobacco was a major cash crop that was a driving factor in the economy as well as what increased the need for slavery. In the Rotunda, there’s a mural that shows everything from Columbus up to the Gold Rush. In the dome of the Capitol there is a fresco called The Apotheosis of Washington that shows George Washington becoming a god or apotheosis as he was the first U.S. president and commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. I honestly think that’s kind of motivating. Everyday Senators and members of the House will come for work and they see these statues or paintings of President Washington and decide to work hard for the country. Maybe not everyone would think that way, but I think it would be a huge honor to do so. I mean, President Washington was the precedent president. He was the example of what a president should do for future presidents to come. To be able to work everyday for this country that he first led and helped fight for, now that would be motivating. 

The Apotheosis of Washington
Credit: eyeofthestrom.blogs.com


Considering that, I want to talk about the riots that happened in 2021. The Capitol breach and vandalization. I wrote a post on this about a year ago when it happened, and I have a different perspective on the situation. A proper explanation of the Capitol breach can be found from my post Part 126- Breach in the Capitol. In that post my general opinion of the situation was mainly anger and displeasure. I was extremely upset at Mr. Trump’s words and was disappointed with how people reacted in agreement to his words. This time, I’m more disappointed and ashamed.

I’ve said this many times, but I will state it one last time. In my opinion, I think the Capitol is designed like a place of gratitude and honor towards not only President Washington, but also many important figures who have shaped our country. President Lincoln, General Ulysses Grant, Sam Houston, etc. By this breach of the Capitol, not only are we disrespecting the building and work space, but also the grounds on which our country first started developing. President Washington gave a farewell address at the end of his presidency. In that address was one request for many others to not form political parties as he was afraid it would divide our nation further. Despite that request, we immediately split into two parties after he stepped down, and look how that has gotten to today.

It’s almost embarrassing to see the results of something our first president warned us about, in front of something that respects and thanks him. It’s embarrassing to think our own people would do such a thing over something small.

Other than that, the Capitol felt much smaller to me than I thought it would be. It looks huge from outside, but it’s pretty close together inside. But then again, I haven’t really seen the ENTIRE building so I may never know. 

Actual picture of me at the back of the Capitol. 


One of the interesting things about the Capitol were the statues inside. Each state is allowed to give 2 statues to the Capitol to which they can swap out whenever they want. Many other people can do so as well. However it’s not necessarily guaranteed that it would be put outside on display. I like how every state chose something unique based on what was important for them. They’re contributing their own pieces of history or even culture/traditions through these statues and the Capitol displays them proudly for everyone to see and learn about. Below are some examples. 

Helen Keller from Alabama
Credits: aoc.gov



King Kamehameha from Hawaii
Credits: aoc.gov

We also visited the Lincoln Memorial and National Archives. Being in the Lincoln Memorial felt…powerful. I can’t really explain it, but when you look at President Lincoln, there’s kind of a powerful aura that can be felt. It’s probably because the statue is huge and the expression is very confident, but you never know. A fun part of visiting was that I actually know the “history” in this. I don’t know the details of the building, but I do know about the Gettysburg Address and his second Inaugural Speech. They were written on opposite walls of each other. It felt really cool to immediately know where they came from, the background of which he said those words, and what the purpose of it was. Other than that there’s not really much I can say. It was extremely busy there and I don’t think I got to properly admire nor pay my respects in a way towards President Lincoln properly. 

Me sitting in front of
Lincoln’s second Inaugural Speech

The National Archives were pretty interesting as well. I have to say, I was mildly dissatisfied when seeing the Declaration of Independence. I think it was obvious it wouldn’t be super clear given it is 300 years old, but I was let down due to my over hopeful brain. I really liked the set up of explaining the details when writing or what happened around the documents. There were things about spelling mistakes, drafts, reasons the ink is faded, and letters that were put up beside the documents in order to have a better understanding. We didn’t spend much time in the National Archives to explore so I really only got to see the Bill or Rights, Constitution, and Declaration of Independence, as well as Public Vaults. The Public Vaults were pretty much just small collections of history such as info about the 3 documents, colonization, invention patents, and more. I think there is more to the National Archives, but based on what I got to see so far, it wasn’t as exciting as I hoped it to be. Hopefully next trip we can stay longer. 

We also got to go to the National Museum of American History. I think that was one of the more interesting parts of our stay. It was quite literally a living documentation of everything in history. There was everything from transportation to cooking to democracy and everything in between. There was even a section on currency that showed how different forms of currency were used and made over time. One of my favorite exhibits was on American democracy that basically showed everything from the start of our government to now. There was stuff on the evolution of voting, protests, elections, news segments, and many more. 


A little something I found amusing


I’d say the best part of the museum was the Star Spangled Banner exhibit. Inside they first show you a timeline of everything that led to the national anthem being written. That meant a timeline of the War of 1812. There was info about the events, what weapons were used, and what it sounded like. There were real life ruins of old missiles and such on display. Further into the exhibit is the highlight. They have carefully maintained and displayed the original American flag with 15 stars and 15 stripes, that was made at that time. After being held onto by the original maker’s family for generations, it was given to the museum to which it has and presents today. This was no ordinary flag. It was HUGE. The usual size of an American flag is 3’x5’. This flag was 30x42 feet which is also much larger than the modern garrison flags used today by the US Army which are a standard 20 by 38 feet. The flag displayed was not the entirety as several parts including a star were cut away and given as keepsakes. However, it was still remarkably large and quite beautiful to look at. 

The original Star Spangled Banner
Credit: battlefields.org

My parents and I outside the
Star Spangled Banner exhibit.

To sum it up, D.C. was an interesting experience. I certainly went through a lot of emotions, including a bit of nationalism, confusion, nervousness, excitement, disappointment, gratitude, and relief to name a few. But mainly I was more motivated to work there. I couldn’t believe that people were working in such a beautiful building everyday. It seemed like an honor to work inside one of the country’s most important buildings and to do something for our country and people. Also seeing how the staffers and employees worked and were able to have such amazing opportunities of assisting and working there as well made me determined to become one of them. It would be great to one day work alongside great people and to carry on what the founding fathers established. So yeah. Washington D.C. was a great experience for me, and I really enjoyed touring the Capitol and being able to make connections to what I learned in U.S. history last year. I will certainly try to work hard to go to D.C. again - hopefully for work- and yeah, I hope you have a great weekend. See you!




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