I took a patriotic trip today to visit one of the places that have defined American knowledge, literature, science, music, architecture, creativity, ingenuity, learning, and achievement since 1897 – the Library of Congress, a place dedicated to preserve the immediate and long-term future of this nation.
I planned to drive to the metro station, park, and ride several trains to the Eastern Market then walk to the Library of Congress along Pennsylvania Avenue. As soon as I exited the coolness of the underground metro, the bright sun and humidity enveloped me. At the top of the escalator, an elderly lady with spiky white hair was sporting a black t-shirt with the words “green festival.” The back of the shirt had three lines, “sustainable economy,” “ecological balance,” and “social justice.” I immediately saw red, literally and figuratively.
This “green” festival she was advertising on her t-shirt will be held in the area at the end of September. Suddenly, the day became oppressive for me. How could I tell this stranger that she was supporting the communist United Nations Agenda 21 of “spreading the wealth” to third world dictatorships by eliminating private property, sovereignty, and personal freedom in the western world in the name of “greening the earth?” Perhaps she knew that already and did not care.
Walking along Pennsylvania Avenue, I was struck by the many mom and pop shops and restaurants, dingy in exterior appearance, in stark contrast to the very expensive townhouses, townhomes, and apartments lining the avenue.
I watched pedestrians, dressed very casual, with worn-out tennis shoes. Many locals were riding bicycles to and fro ignoring the heavy three lane traffic in both directions. The sidewalks were dirty, in spite of the proximity to downtown. There was an air of granola liberalism about the storefronts advertising organic this, natural that, save the environment, and the Obama t-shirts and hats that a lone vendor was selling.
A pizzeria with its doors opened wide in Italian style invited in both patrons and flies. It was hot, expensive, $4 per slice, and it came with an environmental surcharge added to the bill. I love planting trees and caring for the environment, but I hate when people force me to do something by charging a fee to my bill when I am not paying attention and calling it optional online. It reminds me of the involuntary “volunteer” work forced by the communist party on us every month in the country of my birth.
A gas station along the avenue sold regular gas for $4.59 a gallon, a good $1 more than in Virginia, a few miles down the interstate. Democrats must love the “change” in the price of gasoline since President Obama took office – it was $1.79 per gallon then. They still “hope” that everyone adopts their liberal lifestyle along Pennsylvania Avenue with easy bike rides, walking, and condo existence for a mere $3,000 a month for a one-bedroom.
I finally made it to the Library of Congress. The Thomas Jefferson Building is the main tourist attraction and it remains exactly as it was in 1897 when it opened. The other two buildings are modern concrete, glass, and steel, utilitarian behemoths with stacks and stacks of books.
Employees and visitors must submit to bag screenings, entering and leaving. In the past, selfish individuals have ripped rare art pages from books, which were then found for sale in Boston and other towns. Since then, everyone must submit to visual checks of purses and backpacks.
The Thomas Jefferson Building, a majestic example of Italian Renaissance-style with 75 feet ceilings above the marble floor, was the first structure constructed with electricity installed. Its architectural style and decorative interior include a plethora of symbolism relating to learning, knowledge, literature, creativity, and intellectual achievement. The Roman goddess Minerva, in a gold leaf and marble mosaic, protects civilization and knowledge. An owl, the symbol of wisdom, and the statue of Victory flank Minerva who holds a scroll listing fields of study important to civilization.
Books, scrolls, and torches represent scientific discovery and learning. Stained-glass skylights, royal staircases, and triangular vaults with names of leaders, writers, and thinkers adorn the Great Hall. Small children represent occupations and the symbol of various trades such as an electrician with a phone receiver, or an entomologist with a butterfly; globes represent four continents: Africa, America, Europe, and Asia. A large rose brass inlay on the marble floor depicts the twelve signs of the Zodiac.
The Main Reading Room ceiling with a cupola 160 feet tall, is covered with rosettes (some contain a sprinkler system added in the 1980s’ renovation) and a story of the evolution of civilization as understood in 1897, starting with Egypt for written records, Judea for religion, Greece for philosophy, Rome for administration, Islam for physics, Middle Ages for modern languages, Italy for fine arts, Germany for the art of printing, Spain for exploration, England for literature, France for emancipation, and America for science. Eight semi-circular stained glass windows with images of the 45 states and three territories adorn the ceiling. Alaska and Hawaii had not joined the union in 1897. The first six states to join the union, beginning with Delaware, are also depicted in stained glass lunettes in the mezzanine. Only serious researchers with a pass are allowed on the main reading room floor and can use the 236 desks and the library’s vast collections.
Because the British burned in 1814 the initial collection of 740 books and 3 maps used by Congress, President Thomas Jefferson offered his personal library as replacement. Congress appropriated $23,950 to purchase Jefferson’s collection of 6,487 books as a starting foundation for today’s vast library holdings of over 150 million items, books, photographs, sound recordings, maps, music sheets, print materials, manuscripts, and motion pictures. The Thomas Jefferson Library exhibit is found on the second floor. The new “Congressional Library” opened on November 1, 1897 and is considered a national monument.
The most valuable items in the Library are the Gutenberg Bible and the Giant Bible of Mainz. The Gutenberg Bible is the first printed material from moveable type, invented by Johannes Gutenberg. Printing enabled ordinary people who knew how to read to own a Bible. Johannes Gutenberg’s three volume Bible was printed in 1455. The 42 lines per page text is the Latin translation known as the Vulgate, meant for ordinary people. Each page’s initial letter and heading are hand painted in color. St. Jerome made the translation in the fourth century. “The Library of Congress’ copy is printed on vellum and is one of only three perfect copies known to exist.”
The Giant Bible of Mainz is composed of 459 vellum skins of 16×22 inches each. The text was written by a scribe in columns. The scribe wrote the Bible from April 4, 1452 until July 9, 1453. The entire labor of love and beauty took 15 months to complete. The Giant Bible of Mainz was gifted to the Library of Congress on April 4, 1952 by Lessing J. Rosenwald, 500 years after the manuscript was begun.
Most interestingly, five lunette paintings by Elihu Vedder are found in alcoves by the elevator, depicting Government; over the door on the left, the paintings show Corrupt Legislation and Anarchy; on the right are Good Administration, and Peace and Prosperity.
Currently, the Library of Congress is hosting four exhibits:
- Hope for America, a salute to performer Bob Hope, Politics, and Pop Culture (available online at www.loc.gov/exhibits)
- Exploring the Early Americas, an ongoing exhibition of 3,000 rare maps, documents, paintings, prints, and artifacts
- The Armenian Literary Tradition (April 19-September 26, 2012)
- Books That Shaped America, exhibits with titles that have had a profound effect on American life as chosen by “curators and experts of the Library of Congress”
“Some of the titles on display have been the source of great controversy, even derision, yet they nevertheless shaped Americans’ views of their world and often the world’s view of the United States.” (June 25-September 29, 2012)
I left the Library of Congress full of hope and enlightenment. As I finally reached the metro station where I parked the car, I was happily exhausted. My patriotic roots had been renewed and I was lulled into an optimistic sense of reality until I saw a table of two women in the middle of the metro hallway. A young college age female and a middle aged woman were tending to a voting registration booth with a huge sign in Spanish. My heart sank. I asked why Americans are being registered to vote with a sign in Spanish and not in English. The college girl answered quickly, “English is not the official language of the United States.”
Should English not be the official language of the United States? Rep. Steve King thinks so and urges people to contact their Congressman to bring H.R. 997, the English Language Unity Act to a vote. Dr. Rosalie Porter, who testified before the U.S. House of Representatives, said, “This legislation is essential to the unity of our country. Making English the official language of the United States would reaffirm the melting pot ideal and provide a powerful incentive for new immigrants to learn English.”
You must be an American citizen, natural born or naturalized, to vote in any election. To be a naturalized American citizen under the age of 50, you must be able to speak English. Why then are we registering illegal aliens to vote in the D.C. metro? These women were representing the Democrat party’s desperation to win at all costs. They were not rooting for America; they were rooting for illegal aliens to provide convenient Democrat votes in exchange for welfare dependency promise paid for by the unwilling American taxpayers.
There is so much history and achievement that defines American exceptionalism yet it is now in the middle of the liberal zoo.