The heart of D.C.


A glimpse of the Capitol building from Union Station. Izzy Sio ’16


A glimpse of the Capitol building from Union Station. Izzy Sio '16
A glimpse of the Capitol building from Union Station.
Izzy Sio ’16

Convent of the Sacred Heart eighth graders past and present will remember making the five-hour trip to Washington, D.C. to learn more about American history.  The momentous trip is a staple of the Sacred Heart Middle School curriculum, and I was fortunate enough to receive an opportunity to relive my eighth grade memories and learn more about Washington, D.C. when I recently revisited our nation’s capital.
At the beginning of April, crammed into a minivan with my mom and her sister’s family, I took another five-hour drive to Washington D.C. A friend of my mom works for the office of New York State Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and was able to arrange a tour of the Capitol building for my family. While we were unable to meet Senator Gillibrand, it did not stop us from having an exciting and deeply engaging experience in the center of America’s government.
Visiting the Capitol opened me up to American history. The building itself showcases historical relics such as the building’s original foundation, which dates back to 1792, and a statue of Ronald Reagan with pieces of the Berlin Wall constructed into its base.  This statue is one of many in the Capitol that pays homage to renowned politicians and harbingers of change.  The figures evoke a feeling of accomplishment and happiness, serving as reminders of what hard work and dreams can accomplish.
Many of the statues of esteemed political figures line the Capitol's center. Izzy Sio '16
Many of the statues of esteemed political figures line the Capitol’s center.
Izzy Sio ’16

Unsurprisingly, the Capitol was also very secure. Increased security marked its many entrances, making it easy to feel more than safe during what was a truly enriching experience. The massive hallways and rooms not only capture important moments of American history, but amplify the Captiol’s safe yet open environment, helping visitors to learn more about and truly feel like a valuable part of the American nation.
Before the tour, our guide took us to the Capitol Visitor Center, where we received passes that granted us entrance to the Capitol.  The visitor center was flooded with people despite the fact that the government was still holding sessions in the Senate building.  Many of those people were members of school groups, taking me back to memories of my eighth grade field trip. I began to wonder why so many schools make this pilgrimage.  Washington D.C. does house our nation’s government buildings, but what else draws people from all over the country to this place?
It was not until later in the tour when I received my answer.  Our tour guide had commented that the Capitol is the people’s house.  It was built for the people, by the people.  The aim of the Capitol building is to connect the people with their government in order to create a strong, unified country.  The tour showed me how the Capitol building weaves history with modern democratic values of security and openness to become an American landmark, welcoming all people from the darkness of scattered world politics into the home and comfort of freedom.
-Izzy Sio, Staff Writer