By Courtney Sosnowski | Reporter
I spent 10 weeks of my summer in Washington, D.C., and it changed my life. Granted, I want to work in politics after I graduate, but I think that D.C. has something to offer all Americans.
Traveling anywhere will expand your mind and help you to remember history, but some destinations have more to offer than others. I think D.C. can positively affect the way Americans remember current and past events. Not long after our nation’s birth, the founders chose Washington as the nation’s capital. Most important decisions in our nation’s history have happened within the hallowed halls of the White House, Capitol building and Supreme Court building.
When you stand inside these ornate buildings, you cannot help but remember that history is real. Now back at Baylor, I better remember facts from textbooks and lectures because I am able to connect these things to real places. As a professor describes President Abraham Lincoln’s time in the House of Representatives before he ran for president, I recall standing on top of the plaque in the Old House Chamber which marks the spot where President Lincoln sat. As I learn about the infamous Dred Scott v. Sanford Supreme Court decision, I can feel the cold stare of Justice Roger B. Taney’s bust from the old Supreme Court chamber deep in the oldest part of the Capitol building where he heard the oral arguments that slaves should be counted as citizens, but handed down an opinion that said the opposite. Memory is a funny thing. I could remember either of those facts without having visited D.C., but history always seems more interesting when there is a connection to today’s world, and D.C. is that meeting place.
D.C. is not all about history. It is about the present and the future. Americans are blessed to have an open government. If you plan your trip right, you can get a closer look at each of the three branches of the U.S. government. At the Capitol, you can sit in the gallery to watch representatives and senators discuss bills and vote on them. At the Supreme Court, you can listen to a lecture about the legal system from the courtroom. Or, if you are lucky, you can even hear an argument. And, if you book it far enough in advance, you can tour the White House and have the opportunity to ask a Secret Service agent what the first family is like. If you happen to time your trip right, you might see the media clustered outside of a building trying to catch a politician for an interview. You may witness Americans protesting or celebrating the latest headline in the news. The exciting thing about D.C. is that there is always something important going on. You may just get a chance to see it happen yourself.
As you stand in these rooms, you realize many of them are not as big or fancy as you might imagine. It’s easy to imagine politicians as larger-than-life, yet something about breathing the same air as them reminds you that they are Americans too.
If you want to better appreciate, better remember and better love the nation you call home, spend some time in D.C.