Tuesday was the only day we had where there was a SPECIFIC scheduled event: a tour of the Capitol itself. In order to arrange that, I had to reach out to one of my local Senators. Considering I am not a big fan of EITHER Oklahoma Senator, I decided to go for the one that wasn’t actively trying to debunk climate change and emailed Dr. Coburn’s office back in January to arrange our visit.
We walked through the Russell Senate Office Building towards the office of the junior senator and I felt like I was back in elementary school. All the doors looks so huge and the hallways stretched forever. The only sounds I could hear were the heels of my boots on the floor and Mom’s wheelchair wheels rolling along in front of them. We got to Coburn’s office and were greeted by an aid and told they’d be ready to show us around in a few minutes. Mom giddily signed the official ledger as a visitor and I looked at the complicated debt clock on the wall. Mom pointed out there was an old Operation game under the coffee table, as well, before it was time to head to the Capitol.
We’d gone through some pretty hefty security getting into the office building, which was across the street from the Capitol itself, and I expected to have to go through all of that over again. However, our guide took us down a level and we crossed to the Capitol via an underground tunnel that also included a tram! One of them zoomed past as we walked to the main building and I thought how strange it would be to see one of those cars filled up with familiar political faces, or opposing Senators having to sit next to one another.
Once we got to the Capitol itself, we had some bad news: due to some pretty hefty tour groups that had just registered, the wait would be almost an hour to get in. Our guide, however, was wily; she was able to get us our tour stickers and we began our tour as intended. We started by going to the old Supreme Court chamber (which I didn’t know once was in the Capitol itself) and saw some original columns that still had bullet holes in them from the War of 1812. We went down into the crypts (originally designed as a burial chamber for Washington) and then made our way to the rotunda.
I’ve been under some major domes in my travels, none as magnificent as the dome at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The Capitol doesn’t beat it, either, but it’s still a beautiful and awe-inspiring sight. It’s an odd marriage of American history and European styling, complete with a godlike fresco of Washington in the middle. The main room is surrounded by statues, sculptures, and paintings depicting the establishment of the country and our journey to America as we know it today.
After that, we went to the old Senate chamber (another place I was unaware existed) and then the old House chamber, which is now a statuary. There are two statues in the Capitol for every state, and Oklahoma has a Sequoyah statue and a Will Rogers statue. When approached to have his statue placed in Washington, Will Rogers supposedly requested it face the House chamber so he could ‘keep an eye on Congress’. People touch his boot for luck, too, just like in Claremore.
That marked the end of our tour. Afterwards, we went by Ford’s Theatre and went to the International Spy Museum where we saw all kinds of amazing spy gadgets from the Cold War and beyond. It was a good day in Washington.