Postcards from D.C.

By guest blogger Flat Nicholas

I hail from Long Island, N.Y., and was sent to spend a few days with Uncle Tommy as part of a second/third grade class assignment from Mrs. Lerit at West Middle Island School.

Uncle Tommy and Flat Nicholas pose before the cherry trees on the Tidal Basin, with the Jefferson Memorial in the background.

Uncle Tommy and Flat Nicholas pose before the cherry trees on the Tidal Basin, with the Jefferson Memorial in the background.

Uncle Tommy was very busy during most of my time in Washington, D.C. He works for a U.S. congressman and debate over the health care bill was raging. I barely made it out of my envelope all week. I was literally left in the dark. But we did spend Saturday seeing the sights.

We started just after dawn at the Tidal Basin where the Jefferson Memorial sits. Cherry trees given to the capital city by the Japanese as a gift in 1912 rim the basin. Every year the city celebrates the gift with a Cherry Blossom Festival, now in its 98th year. Saturday was the first day of this year’s festival, but it was also very, very cold. The temperature was in the upper 20s when we arrived at the basin. Perhaps that’s why Uncle Tommy is not smiling in any of the pictures we took.

The cherry blossoms are still about a week from being at peak, but it was very pretty just the same.

Uncle Tommy and Flat Nicholas pose before the Library of Congress’ Jefferson Building.

Uncle Tommy and Flat Nicholas pose before the Library of Congress’ Jefferson Building.

We posed in front of the Washington Monument, which is the tallest structure in Washington, but does not reach the highest elevation. By law, no building in Washington can be at a higher elevation than the U.S. Capitol. Elevation means the height above sea level. Because the U.S. Capitol sits on a hill, the top of it is at a higher elevation than the Washington Monument, even though it’s a shorter building.

From there we went to see the Library of Congress and posed before the Jefferson Building for a picture. Thomas Jefferson, our third president, sold all his books to the Library of Congress after the British burned the library in 1814. Now the library is the world’s largest repository of books, manuscripts, photos and recordings. The library has been working very hard to put its collections on the Internet.

Uncle Tommy and Flat Nicholas pose before the U.S. Supreme Court as two police officers look on.

Uncle Tommy and Flat Nicholas pose before the U.S. Supreme Court as two police officers look on. We look pretty suspicious, don’t we?

Next stop was the U.S. Supreme Court, which is right next door to the Library of Congress and across First Street from the U.S. Capitol. The nine members of the Supreme Court decide if the laws passed by Congress and other governmental bodies in the United States are constitutional.

We then jumped on the Metro – Washington’s subway system – and headed for the White House. George Washington was our first president, but he never lived in the White House. The first president to live there was our second president, John Adams. It was still under construction when President Adams moved in and he was not very happy living there.

Uncle Tommy and Flat Nicholas pose before the White House. President Obama didn’t come out to say hello.

Uncle Tommy and Flat Nicholas pose before the White House. President Obama didn’t come out to say hello.

The White House is heavily guarded. When Uncle Tommy tried to set his tripod up to take a picture of us outside the south fence, a police officer politely told him he couldn’t do that. So Uncle Tommy and I went across the street to take the picture from there. Notice Uncle Tommy’s still not smiling, even though it was starting to warm up by then.

We walked from the White House to the National Mall, which is not a shopping center. It is a long strip of mostly grassy area bounded by Independence Avenue to the south, Constitution Avenue to the north, the Lincoln Memorial to the west and the U.S. Capitol to the east. There are many memorials on the Mall, including the Washington Monument. Most of the Smithsonian museums also line the Mall. Uncle Tommy and I took our picture with the Lincoln Memorial and the World War II Memorial before heading back to Uncle Tommy’s home.

Flat Nicholas and Uncle Tommy pose before the Reflecting Pool and the Lincoln Memorial.

Flat Nicholas and Uncle Tommy pose before the Reflecting Pool and the Lincoln Memorial.

Washington, D.C., is an interesting place. It is where our federal laws are made by Congress, implemented by the President and the administrative branch, and their constitutionality decided by the Supreme Court. It is a tourist destination, drawn by such events as the Cherry Blossom Festival and the numerous memorials and museums. It’s also a very friendly city. As Uncle Tommy and I walked around, numerous people called out: “Hey, it’s Flat Stanley,” not realizing I’m actually Flat Nicholas. Some even stopped to talk about their own experiences.

I would definitely go back. If I do, hopefully Uncle Tommy will take me out of his backpack when history is being made.


Tom Pfeifer is the managing partner and chief strategist for Consistent Voice Communications. Reach him at Tom@YourConsistentVoice.com.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: