Fort Report: Your Washington Adventure
Once a year, the entire Nebraska delegation gathers at the SAC Museum in Ashland for high-level discussions of federal policy. This year’s “summit” was well attended by people from across the state. As important as these DC dynamics are, potentially more meaningful was what was being discussed at the local pub and grill. As I walked in for lunch, I saw an important ritual well under way. A group of men sat at one table. A group of women sat at another. They all wore the same Ashland-Greenwood t-shirt. I asked, “What is going on here? I didn’t get the t-shirt.” They were teachers, celebrating the beginning of the school year!
End of summer, beginning of fall, school starts, football season kicks off. After the understandable melancholy that comes with the end of vacation season, and you start to consider your next adventure, I encourage you to pay a visit to our nation’s capital.
First, you are welcome at the Nebraska Breakfast. This time-honored tradition, unique to Capitol Hill, offers the opportunity for you to meet with the entire delegation and hear about important legislative updates. This year marks the Nebraska Breakfast’s 75th anniversary. It is the oldest such gathering on Capitol Hill.
On your DC bucket list, you are likely to have these attractions: The White House; the Capitol; the Pentagon; the Supreme Court; and the Federal Bureau of Investigations, which recently resumed tours after a 17-year post-9/11 hiatus. One of my favorite traditional stops is the Library of Congress. I call it “the gem of America,” and I have proposed that we start using this name: America’s Library.
A national historic landmark that might be off your radar is the Marine Barracks, one of the oldest buildings in DC and the official residence of the Marine Corps Commandant. The Marine Corps Band and Drill Team perform there and at the Iwo Jima Memorial at various times during the summer. Also off the radar of most visitors is the Old Post Office Tower. At 12 stories high, it offers 360-degree views of the Capitol, Reagan Airport, and the surrounding DC area. The 9/11 Pentagon Memorial features a large garden with “Memorial Unit” benches for each of the 184 victims of the horrific attack. If I had to pick one thing, however, it would be the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. My grandfather is buried there.
Please visit the Capitol! We are eager to help you navigate the House and Senate chambers and the historic surroundings. If you visit during a vote in the House of Representatives, you will find the scene to be quite diverse, a bit loud, with people huddling in various corners discussing legislation. Should there be an opportunity, I can make a concerted effort, no matter where I am on the Hill, to meet you.
Sometimes visitors experience spontaneous and exciting opportunities. At one unanticipated moment last month, two Nebraska families had come to visit. In my office at the time was the Ambassador of Jordan. She graciously received the visitors, and willingly participated in an interview with a Nebraska agriculture journalist, discussing potential opportunities between our state and her country. To show you how important these meetings are, at the end of radio interview, the Ambassador proudly declared, “Go Big Red!”