Next year, which is shaping up to be another presidential shocker, will mark the 230th anniversary of what has come to be called Washington, D.C. — and interestingly, two events occurred Thursday that intertwine both the founding of Washington and one of the Founding Fathers of our nation.
One event featured Americans, tourists and immigrants alike, giving their hip-hip-hoorays to reopening of the Washington Monument.
The 555-foot-tall stone obelisk had been closed for a three-year makeover that included a smooth elevator ride skyward to the top, where visitors are treated to a remarkable view of the nation’s capital.
First lady Melania Trump and a gaggle of students from the District’s Amidon-Bowen Elementary School performed the noontime ribbon-cutting. What sight to behold.
See, one of the namesakes of the school and the namesake of the monument had something in common.
George Washington was a slave owner from Virginia. Anthony Bowen was born a slave in Maryland. Bowen, a Christian, eventually bought his freedom, opened a faith-based schoolhouse for black children and eventually got federal funding for his school.
Washington became the nation’s first president and was among the brain trust who founded the nation’s capital on land owned by Virginia and Maryland.
The view from atop the Washington Monument includes the White House, which Washington never occupied, and the U.S. Capitol and various Senate and House buildings, where several top city leaders were making a case for D.C. statehood on Thursday.
Understand, the founders of the capital never intended for D.C. to be a state but a federal district to house the federal government.
Yet, some advocates for statehood want to flip the script of the U.S. Constitution, and some quasi-supporters even want to grant the District’s nonvoting House delegate full voting rights.
Their efforts are not a fool’s errand, but they do need to be reminded that Congress, the president and the U.S. Supreme Court cannot merely wave their magic wands and make it so.
The parchment used to create our republic and describe our government is surely old, but it will withstand a man-made wand (likely manfractured in China).
Growing up in Washington, as Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and Mayor Muriel Bowser did, one enjoys traisping to the National Mall, walking up (and sometimes skipping) the 897 steps of the Washington Monument, peering through the windows and relishing the spectacular view of the District.
It’s OK that Virginians reclaimed their land, and Marylanders occasionally encouraging D.C. voters to join their state is OK, too.
Still, there’s no place like home, your own home.
So now that the mayor, Mrs. Norton and other top D.C. leaders have wrapped up their weeklong statehood push, perhaps they can catch their breath and prepare for a more realistic celebration, the signing of the Residence Act of 1790 to create a national capital. They want to even rip Washington’s name off and rename the District.
Well, don’t get me started.
Anyway, if they want to stage a big birthday bash in 2021 that would be OK, too — as L’Enfant, et al, began laying out the District in 1791.
⦁ Deborah Simmons can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.