My cousin serves Alabama’s 4th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. In January of 2001, Robert Aderholt was being sworn into his third term of office. My mom Truby, my daughter Cassie, lots of cousins, and I flew to Washington, D.C., to celebrate with him at his office in Longworth House on Capitol Hill.
Robert gave us a behind-the-scenes tour of the U.S. Capitol. What an amazing place! The circular Rotunda is where eleven presidents have lain in state, including Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan. We climbed the 365-step staircase from the Crypt under the Rotunda to the top of the dome above the Rotunda. Did you know that there is a walkway on the outside around the top of the dome? I was too afraid to do anything but peek out the door.
The North Wing of the Capitol is home to the Senate chamber. Though we were not allowed to touch anything, we got to walk onto the Senate floor. The South Wing is the House of Representatives chamber. Our family had one seat in the gallery which overlooked the House floor. We each got to observe for fifteen minutes. During my fifteen minutes, the Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, was presented!
We traveled between the Capitol buildings through underground tunnels on electric subway cars. At every stop on our tour, we went through a security checkpoint. And at every security checkpoint, the metal in my prosthetic elbow, wrist, and hand set off the alarms. The tour would stop while everyone waited for me to be “wanded” and “patted.” Once was fine. Twice was ok. The third time I was embarrassed. The fourth time I felt humiliated. Then…Robert walked over to me, put his arm around my shoulders, looked at the security guard, and said, “She’s with me.” From that point on, he and I walked through each checkpoint together.
There is a quote by Daniel Webster etched in marble on the wall of the House of Representatives. It says, “Let us develop the resources of our land, call forth its powers, build up its institutions, promote all its great interests, and see whether we also, in our day and generation, may not perform something worthy to be remembered.” In my book of life, Robert has done that.
Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12