As a Wing Commander in Civil Air Patrol (CAP), two of the travel duties assigned are attend the National Summer Conference and attend the Winter Command Council meeting, usually in late February or early March. The Command Council is composed of each state’s Wing Commander and Region Commanders. In addition to briefings of importance that must be shared with the membership, each wing delegation meets with every senator and representative from their respective state to brief them on activities performed by CAP in their state. As North Dakota is a small state, our visitation list is quite small, like all states, we have two senators, but we only have a single representative. Minnesota, our neighbor wing to the immediate east has eight representatives to visit. Larger states have to bring a large delegation of CAP members, For example, California Wing must visit their 53 representatives and two senators in the time allocated for our meetings. Long before I reach Washington DC, my Director of Administration has already scheduled my appointments and I know when I need to be in the Senate and House office buildings and where each person I must visit is located in the collection of buildings.
Our first meeting was in the Russell Building, the Senate Office Building named for Georgia Senator Richard B. Russell Jr, Senator from 1933 to 1971, the location of Senator John Hoeven’s Office. As it turned out, he was called in to a vote just before our meeting. That also meant I wouldn’t be meeting with Senator Heitkamp either. Her meeting in her office in the Hart Senate Office Building was to follow immediately after Senator Hoeven’s meeting. Representative Cramer had left Washington D.C. due to a family illness the day before. This year would be the first time that my meetings would all be with legislative aides. Nevertheless, the meetings go on and I know from previous experience that the legislators get our information based upon follow up contacts.
Prior to becoming Wing Commander, I was twice in the delegation from North Dakota that accompanied our then Wing Commander. This year, due to budget constraints, I had no one with me from our state. When possible we try to take cadets as well as senior members (the name given to members over 21). It’s an educational experience for the cadets and it adds a bullet point about our cadet programs mission for our legislators to meet some of our cadets. Though North Dakota Wing wasn’t able to send anyone but me this year, the Kansas delegation brought several cadets, two of whom were in attendance due to their involvement with CAP cadet activities at the national level. The Kansas Wing Commander graciously volunteered them to accompany me in my meetings. On the left is Cadet Captain Noah Enders and on the right is Cadet Major Donald Leonhardt. Kansas is in our region and these cadets did a great job sharing CAP’s story of our North Central Region and National cadet training programs and activities.
With only three meetings to attend, and those being in the late morning and mid-afternoon, we were able to avoid the rush hour on our metro ride from our hotel in Alexandria, VA to the U.S. Capitol grounds. After our meetings with the two senator’s aides, we ate a leisurely lunch in one of the Capitol lunch rooms, a rare treat for us mid-westerners. Sorry, no photos are allowed in the food service areas. After our last meeting we had time to visit some of the nearby buildings including a tour of the Capitol itself arranged for us by Senator Heitkamp’s office. The view above is of the Washington Monument as seen from one of the patio areas beside the main building.
We walked across the street intending to visit the Supreme Court building, not necessarily to go inside, but to maybe grab a photo or two of the exterior. As we neared the building (on the right in the photo above,) we could see many people milling around and could hear, though not quite understand the person speaking into a bullhorn or other public address system. Were we to approach closer, we’d be in the middle of some sort of protest, no doubt people upset about some recent Supreme Court decision. As we were in uniform, we wisely elected to stay out of photo range and decided to visit the Library of Congress instead.
As with most buildings in Washington D.C. of historical importance, the Library of Congress is a beautiful structure. The images above are details of the Great Hall, the main entrance area into the library, We didn’t spend a lot of time there, but we did go upstairs to get a view of the Main Reading Room. There is a procedure for visitors to be admitted to any of the many reading rooms for research and review. As it was nearing our appointment time for our Capitol tour, we opted to save that for a future visit. The view of the Main Reading Room below was taken from an observation area accessible on the second floor of the Great Hall.
We left the Library of Congress and made our way to our Capitol tour mentioned above. As this trip is a working trip for me, I didn’t want to be dragging around any photo gear, not even my Sony Point and Shoot. All of the images taken this day were with my Samsung S7 cellphone’s rear camera. I took a few photos inside the Capitol during our tour, but I wasn’t happy with any of them, none being decent enough to share. The gallery of images below features high resolution versions of the images captured on our trip to Washington D.C. In most browsers, you can select an image to enlarge it and to scroll through the gallery.