D.C. Trip - Day 4 Library of Congress

Cold early morning walk to Library of Congress.
The message I want to share today is short and simple - If you go to Washington, D.C., take a tour of the Library of Congress. Do not even think about leaving without doing this.

A couple of months before we left on our trip, the Mamma-woman contacted the office of our Senator and requested information on arranging tours for the White House, Library of Congress, and the Capitol. Not only did they have a ton of information (which they were happy to send us), but the office manager personally made reservations for us and took care of everything! All of this was done very professionally, friendly, and free! To be honest, I didn’t think about it, but as American citizens, these are OUR buildings and all of these people work for us. The politicians themselves may have forgotten that, but with only one exception (the tour guide for the Capitol which I will talk about in the next blog entry), every politician’s assistant, office worker, the tour guides, the police and the employees at every building were extremely nice, friendly, respectful, and helpful. I have to say, I honestly didn’t expect it so it was a very nice surprise.

Library of Congress - beautiful building!
The very first thing you will notice while walking around downtown is the amount of security. There are police EVERYWHERE! There are armed guards EVERYWHERE! There are large metal vehicle barriers EVERYWHERE! There are policemen on every block. There are idling police cruisers parked with a policeman inside or standing beside them every two blocks. Every government building has at least 1 armed guard outside every door and additional armed guards as well as metal detectors at every entrance. Some of the buildings, like the Capitol, have 4 or 5 guards armed with M-16′s standing outside every entrance with more inside. If you don’t feel safe in downtown Washington, D.C., you will never feel safe anywhere.

Christmas in the Library
of Congress
Our tour guide, Janice, was a retired college history professor and it was very evident she loves her job as a guide and she has a passion for the Library of Congress and the story behind it. She was unhurried, patient, knowledgeable and so enthusiastic and informative that she will now be my standard for rating tour guides. From her, we discovered that every little detail, every carving, every painting, every sculpture in the whole building has a meaning and it all comes together to tell a story. It would take a large book to tell the story our excellent guide told us in 2 hours so I won’t even try to do that. I simply cannot do it justice. Please go here http://www.loc.gov/about/more/swf/index.html to learn more about this fabulous entity.

After our tour, we spent some time in the gift shop and then we walked around inside the building some more. We marveled at a Gutenberg Bible and a Mainz Bible, both printed before 1500; we looked at Thomas Jefferson’s original library; we saw the very first map with “America” printed on it and we saw the Great Hall where scholars do their research using over 100 million items kept by the Library of Congress. And I admit, as impressive as all of that is and as thrilled as I was to see it, it was kind of a little additional thrill also to see where scenes of the movie “National Treasure” were filmed.

Looking up to the 2nd floor.
Soon we had to leave as we had an appointment at Senator Mark Pryor’s office. I’ll talk about that in my next blog entry. To say myself and my family were impressed with the Library of Congress would be an understatement. What an excellent way to start our stay in Washington, D.C.!

Gorgeous interior
Sculpture on the stair railing.
Janice, our fantastic tour guide!