By Marty Saviano
I was fortunate enough to have a business trip to our nation’s Capitol this summer. I had a trade show on a Tuesday in Washington, DC. I elected to take the rest of the week as vacation to see the sights. What a joy it was.
Many thanks to U.S. Congressman Mark Alford for arranging a guided tour for me of the Capitol and the FBI Experience tour. Unfortunately, Rep. Alford wasn’t in Washington at the time. Congress was in recess and he was traveling the 4th District of Missouri to check the pulse of his constituents.
I took the public tour of the Capitol before going to Rep. Alford’s office. His intern, Patrick Humphrey, was very instrumental in arranging my tours. Another intern, Blake Hammond, took me back to the Capitol to see things I’d missed on the public tour. I got to look out over the city from the Speaker of the House’s balcony, among other things, such as the Supreme Court Chamber from 1810 – 1860. It was a small, dimly lit room, much smaller than you’d expect. He also took me to the Old Senate Chamber from 1810 – 1859. Again, it was much smaller than you might imagine.
I then took off on my own across Washington, D.C. The Library of Congress is amazing. I could have spent a whole day there. I learned a lot of things about Washington, D.C.
For example, the main floor of the Capitol is called “The Crypt.” George and Martha Washington were to be interred there but George’s will specifically stated that they were to be buried at Mount Vernon. So there is a crypt beneath the Capitol that is empty.
The Washington Monument is 550 feet tall. By law, no other building in Washington, D.C., can be taller than the Washington Monument. Obviously, buildings built prior to the monument (US Capitol) are exempt from this law. The monument is called the Washington Monument because its construction began while Washington was still alive. Therefore it cannot be called the Washington memorial. Memorials are only named for people that have passed away.
One of the more gut-wrenching parts of my visit was a stop at Ford’s Theater, where President Lincoln was shot. The Presidential Box where he was shot is emotional, to say the least.
However, the most emotional and poignant part of my visit was by far Arlington National Cemetery. The eternal flame at President Kennedy’s grave is a sight to behold. The Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is something every American should see. There are four crypts underneath the tomb of the unknown. The first is a WWI hero. The second is a WW2 hero. The third crypt is for a hero from the Korean Conflict. The fourth crypt was for a Vietnam era hero whose remains were recently identified and then sent home to his family in Missouri. The rows of more than 400,000 perfectly spaced white marble headstones is breathtaking. The headstones are 42 inches tall, with 24 inches exposed above the ground. Another 24 heroes were buried at Arlington National the day I was there.
If you haven’t been to Washington, DC, you need to go. The amount of history and the museums are overwhelming. You can’t see it all in a few days, but it’s well worth the trip.
Marty Saviano delivers the Telegraph in Belton in addition to his full time job as a Teco-Westinghouse salesman. He took advantage of “Mondays with Mark” coffee and conversation at Rep. Alford’s Raymore office this summer where he mentioned his trip to the U.S. representative and former news anchor.