Recently, my family and I went on a vacation to Washington D.C. One of the things I wanted to be sure to do was get a tour of the United States Capitol. A friend recommended that I go through the office of my representative to book the tour, so I contacted the office of Danny Davis, 7th Illinois Congressional District, which includes Oak Park.
My family and I walked into the Rayburn House Office Building and went to Rep. Davis’ office. As soon as I walked in, I immediately felt at home, because the pieces of décor in the office all reminded me of sweet home Chicago, including pictures of the Chicago skyline, Harold Washington, and an artifact on loan from the Field Museum. There was even a map of the 7th District on one of the walls, and I could distinctly point out Oak Park, and everyone there would know where it was. Indeed, this office was like a piece of Chicagoland in Washington D.C.
We were led by two staff people in the office through the hallways underneath the House Office Buildings and into the Capitol Building. We saw the exhibits in the Visitors Center, the Crypt, the old House and Senate chambers, and the Rotunda, where we caught a brief glimpse of John Boehner with high school-age Congressional pages. We concluded our tour by spending 10 minutes sitting in the House gallery.
Cong. Davis invited us to sit down for an impromptu personal audience. He offered a few words commending Oak Park and its notable people. I remarked that being in Washington DC, was an inspiring experience. He then commented on how inspirational it can be to serve in Congress. He noted that all the legislation that has ever become law started as the idea of one person, which then got the support of others, getting enough votes to pass both houses of Congress, and then becoming law by getting the president’s signature.
We toured the building that serves as a powerful symbol of our nation’s government, and is the focal point for a lot of news coverage. Furthermore, we got to meet the man who serves as our representative in Congress and to interact with the people on his staff. All I did was call his office and ask for a Capitol tour, and we got a personal escort through the hallways of the Capitol complex, then some time to meet with the congressman himself.
This experience really reinforces in my mind the idea that the government is ours — a “government of the people, by the people, for the people,” as Abraham Lincoln said. It is a government where individuals transform their ideas into reality, and make an impact on the whole country.
I encourage all of you, whenever you get the chance, to go to Washington DC, and book a tour of the Capitol through your representative or senator, so you, too, can have this experience. It’s an experience all Americans should have.