Editor’s Note: Rangerette and Flare staff writer Dezirae Burnett, Huntington freshman, is in Washington D.C. to perform Jan. 19 in The Black Tie & Boots Presidential Inaugural Ball. The Rangerettes arrived Jan. 16, and are able to tour the capital. THE FLARE will share Burnett’s personal reflections on the trip. Keep up with us on Facebook or Twitter for updates on new entries.
Clouds part for changing of guard, Capitol tour
By DEZIRAE BURNET
I welcomed the trip’s first rays of sunshine in the morning as I embarked on the day’s journey to Arlington National Cemetery.
Within the walls of the massive cemetery, the endless sea of white headstones held me transfixed by the sheer magnitude of just how many souls had been laid to rest there.
I walked somberly down the pedestrian paths, taking note of the dates on each grave marker and the battles in which each person bravely fought.
At 11 a.m., I witnessed the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It was completely silent on the hill on which the tomb sits, overlooking the city, except for the occasional clicking of a camera shutter.
It was as if time had joined the tourists in pausing out of respect for tradition, as the second Marine took the place of the one before him. The sun continued to smile down upon the Marine guard as he assumed his position in front of the tomb, before taking exactly 21 steps to the opposite side. His face was completely void of any emotion despite the sadness surrounding him and the bitter wind. And that was how we left him … pacing monotonously in front of the sacred tomb.
The Capitol was more grand than I could have ever imagined. The marble steps leading to its entry beckoned for me to come inside and experience another chapter from the history books.
Our tour, led by Congressman Louie Gohmert, took us throughout the halls of the Capitol. I felt honored to sit in the very room where just weeks from now, the President of the United States would address our country with the State of the Union. The dimly lit room hardly seemed fit to house such important events in history.
The next room showcased the two statues representing each of the 50 states. Had I not known any better, I would have guessed we were touring an art gallery as opposed to a government building, because of the perfection and beauty.
The domed ceilings were ornately decorated with intricate carvings of angels, farming scenes and scenes from the battlefield. In the room directly following that, a mural was painted on the dome’s concave underside. It was one of the most gorgeous pieces of artwork I have ever laid eyes on. One would have to experience the scene in person to fully understand how breathtaking the angelic scene depicted there truly is. Along the walls of this room hung colonial paintings of the signing of the Declaration, President Washington’s resignation and the wedding of Pocahontas.
In the Senate, we were told that the sleek varnished desks were the very same desks used by President John F. Kennedy himself.
The soft, padded carpet was comfortably worn from being trod upon by the feet of hundreds of men and women who have helped to maintain our country’s standard of democracy.
As we exited the Capitiol, by way of the same path to be taken by the President on the day he delivers his State of the Union address, I was proud to have just explored the place where so many groundbreaking decisions were made that constructed my way of life as it is today.