On Saturday morning, Mrs. Wheaton and I slept in a bit and then after breakfast went out to enjoy some more sights of the city. Our first stop was to visit the National Mall and enjoy some of the sights of the Smithsonian Institution. There was not enough time to see all of the buildings, but we stopped in the Hirschhorn Sculpture building, toured the gardens there and the American History Musuem. One of the surprise parts of my trip was to find out that two former students that I had in second grade when I taught in Kalamazoo Public Schools now lived and worked in Washington DC. We had a plan to meet up for lunch at the Capital Grille. Abbey works for the State Department and she brought her husband of one year, Chris. They will be celebrating their first anniversary in just a week. Abbey just celebrated her 30th birthday so I ensured we had some special dessert. The waiter brought out the dessert with a candle and we made sure we sang Happy Birthday to her! Ben went to a prestigious culinary school in Washington DC and is now a cook/chef apprentice at a very trendy restaurant in town called Proof. We had a great time reminiscing and remembering what it was like to be a second grader and me be their teacher. Both Abbey and Ben had a hard time using my first name and still called me Mr. Wheaton. Abbey told me that when she is asked a security question on her computer to set her password she always lists me as her favorite teacher. Ben had told me that he considered me to be one of his favorite teachers as well. It was a pleasure to have lunch with them at a very popular restaurant called the Capital Grille and we all had special activities to get to in the afternoon. Ben had to go to work and Abbey and Chris were off to prepare for a special belated birthday celebration for Abbey.
Mrs. Wheaton and I were off to a scheduled Capitol tour! We came to the front of the Capitol and it was under construction and the Capitol grounds were off limits! We walked around to the back of the Capitol and entered the newly built Visitor Center and got our tickets for our tour just in time! The Capitol is absoluely stunning. There are many people who want to view it, so we didn’t have as much time to see the different rooms as we wanted. Because it was Saturday, we could not view the Senate chamber or the House of Representatives chamber. We did get to see the beautiful great Exhibition Hall and the original room where the Senators and Representatives met when we were a much smaller country. 50 senators serve in the senate as each state gets two representatives. Representatives are allocated according to population of the state. At this time, there are some 465 representatives. Representatives serve for two year terms and you have to be at least 25 to be a representative. Senators serve for six year terms and you have to be 30 to serve as a senator. You must be 35, a natural born US Citizen to be a president and they serve a four year term. You can only serve two four year terms. As you know, President Obama would like to serve another four years, but his challenger Mitt Romney is hoping that in the November election he will prevail.=. We found out however that the Constitution does not provide for any minimum age to serve on the Supreme Court. The term on the Supreme Court is for life, no term limit. Our guide was very knowledgeable and provided information about the beautiful art work, frezies that have been painted, and historical statues and items placed throughout the Capitol. Enjoy these pictures of our nation’s Capitol!
After our tour, we walked through an underground tunnel to the Library of Congress, the Thomas Jefferson Building. This is the most important libray anywhere. It is an absolutely stunning building and we got to take a peek at the reading room where you can request reference books to read, but not check them out. Presdient Obama got to check out Abraham Lincoln’s bible to be used at his inaugration four years ago. Very old documents like the Gutenberg bible are stored here in hermetically sealed environments. No pictues are allowed of course to perseve the old vellum pages. The whole building has a focus on knowledge and learning. Quotes about education are painted everywhere on the walls. We were now on the other end of the National Mall and we enjoyed our very long walk back to our hotel for a little rest before dinner.