Sunday, June 21, 2009

Washington D.C. after 911

I've just returned from a week in Washington D.C. where I went as a tourist for the third time in my life. I apologise to readers that have been looking for new posts during the past week, but my hotel did not have a public computer facility. So for the past week, I forgot what a computer felt like. Don't worry, I'm back and will be looking forward to offering more opinions on the issues of the day.

Last week's poll seemed to mirror the perceptions of the Congress and the public at large. The question; Do you support the appointment of Sonya Sotomayor to the Supreme Court had a 100% positive response, although 16% of respondents said "yes with reservations" The remaining 84% of respondents had no reservations.

I just want to say a few words about visiting the Nation's capitol as a tourist following the attacks on 911. While I've traveled to D.C. over 50 times in my life, I've only been the tourist on 3 occasions. I went when I was around 12 years of age with my parents, and then I took my son there along with my wife during the early part of the Clinton administration. Last week's visit saw many changes from the Clinton years.

Today, you need permission from someone in Congress to visit certain facilities such as the White House and Congress. Some 17 years ago, we toured the White house without a problem. Today, the selection process is kept secret as it probably should be. We applied 2 months before our visit and did not gain entry this time.

Every museum entry has tight security and the feeling of freedom that Americans enjoyed some 10 years ago seems to be somewhere in the distant past. I don't suppose that things will reverse themselves anytime soon. The most striking site was a guard standing outside of the Capitol with a long gun (probably and automatic weapon). It reminded me of my travel to Mexico many years ago on a business trip to Vera Cruz. Mexican Army guards seemed to be in a lot of places with their long weapons in hand. Somehow, we in America never thought this would be necessary.

Another familiar site was the presence of bomb sniffing dogs making their rounds through the park areas surrounding the Capitol and other key facilities. And of course, there are now barriers everywhere.

A lot has changed since 911. Most of this change is absolutely necessary. Spending an entire day in the U.S. Holocaust Museum 6 days after the attack there was a sobering experience. There was another striking fact however; tourism is alive and well in Washington D.C. The election of Barack Obama has been a real boon to the economy of this city. Threats aside, everyone still wanted to be there and enjoy what this Nation has given us. It was a great week.

I'm awfully glad that I had the opportunity to visit the city in a more innocent time. One thing that has not changed in the years I've been traveling to the city, the homeless are still everywhere, and that is a sad commentary on our society.

Check out the new slide show.


1 comment:

  1. It is a shame--we could not get into (or near the White House and in the Capitol building, were not allowed in the Senate or House of Rep. galler ies as we were over 10 years ago! it seems we are going backwards. I agree with security and such but I don't think if you have been planning and have been "cleared" through the senator's office, you should necesarily be denied of all these experiences