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Trailheads: Capitol made quite an impression on a young man

Trailheads: Capitol made quite an impression on a young man

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Once upon a time long, long ago (1956), I graduated from Normandy High School in St. Louis, Missouri. As a reliably average student whose only real interested in life at that time was becoming a major league baseball player, I was ill-equipped for inclusion in the more levelheaded world of working adults.

And since I was a speedy outfielder with a poor throwing arm, an excellent base runner who seldom could hit a pitched curve ball, and only missed being a strapping six foot three inches tall by a mere eight or nine inches, my chances for a career in professional baseball were slim and none.

Frustrated by failure to find a job in the summer after my graduation, I contacted Mr. Blitz, my high school guidance counselor, who helped me submit an application for employment with our national government. In less than a month I was on my way to Washington D.C. to work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a fingerprint technician.

After a short education about the whorls, loops and arches required for fingerprint classification and the issuance of a magnifying glass, I worked for the next three years as one of the technicians on the FBI night shift. My job along with many other folks was to search the extensive collection of files of previous fingerprint evidence concerning lawbreakers in our country. We were a serious swarm of worker bees indeed.

Due to my night time working schedule, I was able to fill my daylight hours with personal interests and in Washington D.C., that was the history of our country, the Smithsonian and our two Legislative bodies, the Senate and the House of Representatives. For me, the Capitol of the United States became a treasure trove of remarkable information.

I spent many of my free hours in the visitor galleries of both the House and Senate listening and learning about the legislative process as it was working its way into national law. At that time there was an easy and free access into most government buildings and little surveillance or physical security.

Something else I recollect from my FBI/Washington D.C. time is the Eisenhower/Nixon Inauguration Parade in January of 1957. Having a live elephant walking in the election celebration was certainly memorable, but the fact both the president and vice president were riding in convertibles with the top down is currently mind cringing. These days our government officials are usually seen riding inside some kind of armored vehicle.

And considering the awful spectacle of outrageous behavior that was spewed onto our nation's capital during the terrible events of January 6, we shouldn't be too shocked or even surprised by the current sobering views of the additional fortifications installed there.

Do we label those defensive protections now in place to protect our government buildings and officials as necessary and our best line of defense in these modern times? I think so, but seem not to really know for sure. Something inside of my very being is shouting "unacceptable!" The current defensive measures in Washington D.C. certainly can't be considered a sign of progress, but hurtful and just so very sad.


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