Letters

Letters to the Editor: U.S. Capitol Grounds Will Be A Place of Reverence Again

Letters to the Editor: January 21 – 27, 2021

U.S. Capitol Grounds Will Be A Place of Reverence Again

Editor,

As an educator and resident of the D.C. area for four decades, I have shown many students, from those in high school to those pursuing PhDs, through the United States Capitol. It is always a thrill for me. I’ve seen the impact it has on students. I remember an undergraduate from China, here on a semester program, as we walked into the Rotunda. He stopped, looked up and said, “Oh, it is so beautiful.”

Another student was moved by John Trumbull’s painting of “General George Washington Resigning His Commission.” Back in class, that led to a discussion of Washington’s relinquishing of power and the importance of that action in U.S. and world history. Someone then raised the issue of Washington owning slaves. After much lively conversation, we decided to visit Mt. Vernon, where were able to partake in a ceremony marking the contributions of the slaves who worked there.

On another trip, I led a group of PhD students from Africa, here on a fellowship program named after Norman Borlaugh, an Iowa farmer and scientist whose statue is in the Capitol. They were eager to get a group photo by his statue. Our guide, one of the extraordinary people who lead Capitol tours, knew quite a bit about Borlaugh’s extraordinary efforts to eradicate global hunger. Seeing these scientists so interested in the Capitol — and Borlaugh in particular — brought her to tears.

On what would be his last trip to Washington, my brother was in failing health from Parkinson’s Disease. Though he needed a wheelchair, we were not slowed as we took in the Lincoln Memorial, Gettysburg, a lecture at Ford’s Theater and a tour of the Capitol. He passed away in September. He loved this country and its rich, complicated history. I will forever cherish that memory of our time together in the Capitol.

I have always been inspired by the majesty of the building, the complex history it highlights and the amazing people who work there. I am looking forward to my next visit.

Steve Selby

via the Internet


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