Washington D.C. is an amazing place to visit.
History is preserved within the walls of museums all across the district. But beyond the history that is kept there, so much of our country’s important historic events actually happened here and history is still being made every day.
I visited the capital of Ethiopia for 20 days in 2011 to complete the adoption of our son. Our family loves Addis Ababa and its people. But there is no comparison to the greatness of America.
The difference is freedom.
A few things really stood out when we were in Addis Ababa.
In Ethiopia, you can’t take photos of the presidential palace or other government buildings. When a dignitary arrives in the country, it isn’t unheard of for main thoroughfares to be shut down and heavily armed officers posted every few yards to maintain security.
In America’s capital, crazy priests are allowed to protest in the middle of the street at rush hour and continuous protests are even allowed at the president’s home at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
I took a photo Sunday night of the White House with a machine gun-toting capitol police officer smiling at me while I took it.
One of the most interesting things about the steady stream of protesters is that most of them are from other countries. Of course when the president or Congress do something controversial, plenty of Americans use their First Amendment right to assemble and speak freely. But on a typical day, the majority of the protesters are from outside the country. In America, they enjoy freedoms they still dream of in many other countries.
There is a tent just across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House where a protest against nuclear weapons and in favor of peace has been in process for decades. Someone fills the tent and continues the protest 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. One woman spent more than three decades of her life taking part in the protest before her death in 2016. But the protest continues, even in her absence.
It hasn’t been completely continuous, however. In 2013, a man who was supposed to work his shift walked away from the tent for unknown reasons. White House security dismantled and removed the group’s tent. But it wasn’t long before they were back and set up to resume the briefly paused protest.
A few blocks up the street from the White House is an entire museum dedicated to news — appropriately known as the Newseum.
It celebrates the First Amendment and great work in journalism over the years. When you see the work done in America and other countries by journalists who have exposed injustice and influenced world events, it makes you wonder why our current administration considers the media the “enemy of the people.”
Our nation’s capitol is one big monument to freedom. From the men and women who authored founding documents that granted those freedoms, to those who fought and died to preserve the freedoms, and those who exercise their freedoms every day, Washington D.C. honors them all.
— Kent Bush is publisher of Shawnee (Oklahoma) News-Star and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.