September 13, 2019

It’s day 5 of our National Trip and everyone is well and accounted for. After a busy week of visiting our Hawaii Congressional delegation, spending a morning with Kathryn Hill and others at USDA’s Agricultural Research Center and National Agricultural Library in Beltsville, MD….we have a day to relax and explore DC.

Ten of us are heading to the White House for a 9:00 a.m. self-guided tour. I, for one, have never been there and as an enthusiastic history nut, can hardly wait for this day to begin. Maybe we’ll see a few Secret Service agents…so do they really wear black suits, white ties, dark glasses and have wires hanging from their ears? Just wondering.

Time to leave for the Metro. Wait, where’s Gene Ross? After calling a few times and dropping him a few texts, we start heading for the Metro….one man short. Hopefully, he’ll catch up with us. Not like Gene Ross to be late for anything.

The Metro is zipping along. We’re getting off at McPherson’s Square. Yesterday I was talking to my seatmate, a woman who is a paralegal with the US Attorney General’s office. Today, my seatmate is wearing a suit and is fast asleep. No conversations today. I hope our Oahu rail system will prove to be a good alternative for the island….it will at least cut down on the CO2, or at least that’s what all those Metro posters say.

I wonder what our other ALFH friends are doing today. Hopefully, they’ll send me an update. I know some are sleeping in, while others are visiting museums and/or memorials, or friends. Still others are working on their computers…we can never run far enough away from work.

Back to the White House Tour….none of us can carry “Prohibited Items” into the White House. So no water, snacks, purses or backpacks….I feel like I’ve been stripped of some constitutional right because of this. #feelingemptyhanded

Still no sign of Gene Ross. We’re at the entrance to the White House. Starting to worry. Chris is on a call. Jonathan Ho is starting to run up 15th Avenue. We decided to take a selfie.

And then who do we see?

It’s Jonathan AND Gene Ross. He’s no longer lost!!! Whoop-whoop!

Memorable moments at the White House? Going through 4 security checkpoints; watching a woman getting yelled at by security for walking off “the path”; understanding that the President and First Lady were in residence and just a staircase away; learning that earlier in the week they were sitting at the table in the State Dining Room having dinner with foreign dignitaries; admiring the photos, paintings, sculptures, chinaware, colored walls and antique furniture; and being able to take a picture under the Seal of the President.

My favorite picture was of JFK with his head hanging low. I wonder what decision was pressing so heavily on him at that moment.

Oh, for the record, the Secret Service agents weren’t wearing suits. They were wearing bullet proof vests and some were carrying very large guns. You don’t want to cross the line with any of those guys.

As we left the White House, some headed towards the Thomas Jefferson Library of Congress Building and others on to other adventures, our group lessened to 7. The Library of Congress was stunning! It was more like a museum then library.

Did you know that the Library has 167 million items within its collection? Did you know that they receive 12,000 to 15,000 new items each day that’s reviewed by experts within the Library to determine whether they should be added to the Library’s collection? Did you know they paid $10million for a map dating back to 1507 because it identified, for the first time, “America”? Our free tour guide, Mark, was an engaging, comical and knowledgeable individual who added much to our tour.

With our tour completed, our group reduced down to 6 as Pauline headed out to meet up with a friend. We went searching for lunch at the Madison Building. We must have looked like a group of lost souls because every time we paused someone would walk up to us and ask if we needed help. How do we get to the cafe? How do we get out of the building? “Go down the blue hall, turn right down the red hall, then turn down the yellow hall.” “Thanks.” You should have seen the shocked look of a young woman exiting her yellow door…she quickly pointed to her left acknowledging our confused looks. Ask Brian, Jonathan Ho, Chris, Yarrow and Gene Ross about the look on that women’s face. It was hilarious!

Our group reduced to 3 with Gene Ross heading to the Longworth Building to meet with Dave Chun at Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s office and others heading back to the hotel. The remaining 3 headed to the US Holocaust Museum.

There is nothing that I can say that would come close to describing what is captured within the walls of the Holocaust Museum. Let me just say that this is the first museum that I have been to where everyone is reading the plaque for each display. The emotional ride you experience takes you to levels that you can’t even believe. Go there if you haven’t been there. The message is powerful.

As we head back to the hotel on our last Metro ride, I’m reviewing our week in Washington DC. It’s been quite a ride, filled with history, advocacy and miles of walking. Thanks for a great time, DC!