The U.S. Capitol, arguably the greatest building in the other
The hallways and staircases of both are rich with artists’ renditions of their particular dogma – biblical scenes in one, historical tableaus in the other. God stretches out a finger to Adam on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel; George Washington ascends to godlike status with female figures of
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. . . On the walls, Columbus, somewhat nattily dressed for having just crossed the Atlantic, places the banner of Spain on the new land; Pocahontas gets baptized; DeSoto stumbles upon the Mississippi River; the Founding Fathers dutifully line up to sign the Declaration of Independence. (For more on Capitol art, click here.)
The D.C. service for the late Tom Foley was held in this milieu in nearby Statuary Hall, a circular room with marble pillars and larger-than-life chiselings and carvings of men and women the states want to honor. But before it became a repository for statues, it was the House of Representatives chamber from 1807 to 1857. It was in this location that Speaker Henry Clay led the War Hawks to vote for the War of 1812 ( the British responded by burning much of
The chamber had bad acoustics, and eventually became too small for the growing House of a growing nation. The new chamber, which one sees when a president addresses the Congress for the State of the
To observe proceedings in the old chamber, the public could stand in a narrow balcony, reached by spiraling stone steps concealed, as many staircases in the Capitol are, behind an unobtrusive and normally locked door. Reporters and photographers were ensconced in the balcony for the Foley memorial, allowing a birds-eye view of the two presidents, two vice presidents, three House speakers and other dignitaries who came to pay their respects.
Of all the testimonials to Eastern Washington’s long-serving congressman, perhaps the most appropriate to the historic room was given by former Rep. Bob Michel of