It was the kind of day when the weather suggests you enjoy the outdoors, warm enough to ditch the heavy coats of winter and the restrictions they provide. Yet as I walked down the streets of Washington, DC, I held tight to a light sweater as I felt a cool breeze in the air. It really was one of those perfect days to sit under a tree, blanket spread with picnic regalia in all its splendor, and a good book in hand. I, however, lost all thoughts of the outdoors and the call of nature, as I stepped through the doors to the dome-shaped building which encapsulates the yesterdays and the tomorrows of our nation’s history.
With each step I took upon the tiled floors, tiny squares of intricate designs, I couldn’t help but think of all those whose footsteps graced these halls since 1793. How many men and women eagerly entered this meeting place of the nation’s legislature, with hopes of not only leaving their footprints on these tiles but their imprint on our country? If I listened closely, I could almost hear the intellectual and political discussions, words floating up and around the painted dome with its mythological and historical impressions, secrets being whispered among the collection of American art gracing the walls.
For hundreds of years life changing decisions have been made amid the half circle of desks in the Senate gallery and throughout this building, behind closed doors and in the presence of those whose job it is to record it for our history books. The circular theme of the building a constant reminder of how history repeats itself no matter how hard we try to avoid it, coming back full circle in another attempt to teach us the lessons we didn’t grasp the first time. There is a reason buildings such as this one are preserved at all costs. They hold our history and they hold our future.
I felt honored to walk the same path as these leaders who have shaped our nation, to sit in the very seats they sat in, to admire the artistic details on walls and ceilings and look out the windows at the same panoramic views their eyes have also seen, to stand in awe of the majestic statues of American Presidents stoically keeping watch on the history they once created.
I also couldn’t help but feel small and insignificant in this magnificent rotunda, the symbol of the American people and our government. And yet, as I looked through my camera lens at my family, positioned in the exact center of this magnanimous building something else came into focus. I saw my history and my future in their smiles. I saw my husband and I in our first home shortly after being handed the keys, slow dancing in our socks in the living room to the music in our hearts. I saw my children’s peaceful looks as I rocked them back to sleep in their nurseries night after night. I saw us teaching our children to read, to ride a bike, to tie their shoes, to love, and to live. The truth is, life changing decisions occur in our homes every day. Lessons are taught and history is written. Our homes hold our history and hold our future. Each lesson we pass down to our children, each kind word we utter to our family, each impression we make upon someone else is a step in shaping their future, our future, and ultimately our nation’s future. As I headed out past the towering statues of George Washington, Susan B. Anthony, Ronald Reagan, Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks, and the many others who have shaped our present, I couldn’t help but be reminded that each of their stories began at home.