Monday, June 15, 2009

It's A Beautiful Day in the Capital

Today I went to that place where I always feel at home--the National Air and Space Museum. I've seen it all before, several times, but it never gets old. Perhaps I like it so much because the greatest ambition of man is to leave the rock on which he was born, and that's what airplanes and rockets and spacecraft allow.

Then I went to the National Museum of the American Indian. The architecture was stunning, but the displays? Not so much. Honestly, I was not impressed. I'm more impressed when I go to Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park. (I wonder if it is one that will have to be closed due to California's budget troubles....)

There was a lot of antipathy towards the White Man in the displays. I try to understand it, I really do. If someone came and conquered my people, I'd try to keep our American memories and values alive. I'd resent the conqueror, and would teach my children to resent the conqueror.

But that was centuries ago. Of course, the broken treaties, the reservations, the Indian schools--those don't help the cause of America. We aren't a perfect country, but we try to be more so. And we do some things to try to make up for past mistakes.

On the other hand, I don't hate the Norse and the Normans for invading England and subjugating my Anglo-Saxon ancestors. How far back can this hatred extend?

I had a grandmother who was born in Oklahoma a few months after Oklahoma became a state. One line of my family tree stretches back to the frontier, Ohio of the early 1800s. Another line goes back to Rhode Island in 1690, and perhaps even before. It's possible that there's some American Indian blood in me. I may not be Native American, but I am a native American. And I love this country and its ideals.

After years of construction, you can get close once again to the Capitol. The Capitol Visitor's Center was built underground right in front of the (east steps of) the Capitol, so obviously the area had been cordoned off for some time. I thought I'd go see what all the hubbub was about.

Silly me, I just expected an information center and a gift shop. Oh, no. The CVC is a vast underground complex with a huge entry hall, I think there's a theater down there, and you can sign up for tours of the Capitol. Nothing in DC is small except accommodations; everything is big, including the prices! Oh, and there were two gift shops.

Seeing there was a tunnel going across the street to the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress, I took it. The Library of Congress would be much more impressive if I had been there to get a book and do research. Yes, I saw a couple of exhibits including the Jefferson Library, and the building itself was beautifully reminiscent of the Romantic Period architecture of Europe, but I couldn't get into where the books were! I'm not sure if a tour would have gotten me in there, either. Still it was a nice way to spend an hour.

The welcoming reception for the CEAFU conference starts in just over an hour. This day just keeps getting better.


allen (in Michigan) said...

What's tough to understand? Remember the brouhaha over the Enola Gay exhibit a coupe of years back?

There's no issue too unrelated, no fact so recalcitrant that they can't be bent to the service of political correctness.

rightwingprof said...

Ah yes, the Park Service. See here: