I was told to take a family on tour of the Capitol. I was not really looking forward to it, but I like to meet and be with people. It was a set of grandparents, parents, and two children.
They were open and friendly and I could tell it was going to be an enjoyable tour. They were all bright eyed and very attentive. Even the grandfather, was very attentive and I could tell was listening to every word I was sharing. The littlest girl would always stand beside me and lean her head against my hip. She was so adorable and would turn out to be quite the asset.
When we were in the Russell Rotunda, I was telling about the old rail car when I saw Senator Kerry coming up the way. I discreetly informed my group that if they would casually look, they would see Senator Kerry. She turned around and ran over to him and asked if he was Senator Kerry. He reached down and shook her hand and confirmed that he was. He walked her back over to the group and shook everyone’s hands and excused himself. While they were all Republicans and had only moments before implied they did not like Democrats one bit, they were impressed by the occasion. I found it very heartwarming and encouraging of people who are protrayed as so cold and impersonal.
That is not the end though. The little girl was really excited to have met two Senators and was telling me about it. We got on the rail car to go over to the Capitol when Senator Thune got on the car. I told them about him and when we got off, she asked him if he was Senator Thune. He assured her he was, shook her hand, met all the rest of us, and went on his way. She was thrilled about three Senators. The grandfather was excited to meet him since he removed Daschle from his seat.
In the Brumidi corridors, I explained the frescos and the grandfather saw Senator Biden coming down the corridor and again told the little girl. She went and asked if he was Senator Biden. Again, he shook her hand, came over and shook all of ours, and went his way. Now she was up to four and almost giddy. She asked for us to point out any and all Senators so she could shake their hands. Now she was up to four.
Near the Senate Rotunda, I was explaining the tour when Senator Warner came by. Again, the grandfather indicated who he was and she announced herself asking if he was Senator Warner. He was kind, shook her hand, came and shook all of ours, and excused himself. Now she was at five. (She met Senator Smith that morning at the Welcoming Oregonians to Washington)
The tour continued and we didn’t run into any Senators in the meantime (at least that any of us recognized) However, by halfway through the tour she was asking if she could walk with me and hold my hand. With permission, I said she could. I had a "buddy" the rest of the tour, at least that is what she called me. She was so darling and sweet.
Towards the end as we were about to go downstairs to get on the rail back to Russell, Senator Inhofe got off the train. I told her who he was, and she followed suit. Again, we all shook hands and he left us.
At Russell, we piled in the elevator on the way up to the fourth floor. At the second floor, Senator Dodd climbed aboard the elevator. Nobody could tell the little girl who he was though without being obvious. However, without a miss, she turned and asked if he was a Senator. He turned and acknowledged he was and we parted in the hall way of the fourth floor. She was up to 7.
Well, it appeared that all our adventures were over and she was in tears at having to leave me. I was holding her and she didn’t want to let go. Come to find out they were going to the Capital South stop of Metro and it was pouring outside, so I offered to walk them through the tunnels to the Cannon Building, which is just across the street from the Capital South entrance. She was delighted and I got to spend some more time with this obviously close family.
Back downstairs to get on the train for the Capitol. The train car was coming in, I didn’t see him, but this time the father announced who their arrival was going to be. Senator Kennedy got off the train, asked who the cute little girl was, and ushered her into the rail car. When he put his hand to the side, she gave him a hug on the leg and he gave her a pat on the back. She stepped in the car and put out her hand to shake his. He shook it, let out a little chuckle, ushered everyone onto the car shaking our hands in the process, and then walked away. By the time we were at the Capital she in delightment was proclaiming she had shook eight Senator’s hands and the brother of a President. It was adorable. Too bad there were not more on the rest of the trip. It was a bit of a story for me as well to shake 7 Senator’s hands in one day.
We said our good-byes, she wept at our parting, beaming parents and grandparents sent many thanks, and I offered my services if they ever needed them. Walking back to Russell I thought about the singularity of the experience of the tour. It dawned on me that it was not the thought of shaking these Senator’s hands that made the difference, or that we even saw them, but I was struck by the smile and happiness in each of the Senator’s eyes with this darling little girl. It was beautiful. She brightened my day, and each one of these Senator’s days. In my conversations with others, especially those who have worked in Kennedy’s office, they always made him sound like such a grouch and unhappy. I will never forget the smile on Senator Kennedy, Senator Kerry, or Senator Warner’s face and in their eyes. I felt and saw the goodness in their souls, despite what anyone might say each of these individuals belief or thoughts.
It was a day which was life altering and beautiful. I hope this little girl never loses her innocence nor her happiness. What an amazing family. Their unity and love for one another was evident and easily spread. There is so much of beauty in the world, too bad we all forgot how to let it shine.