The scene on Capitol Hill yesterday was all about taking care of business. Congressional leaders were hard at work serving constituents and getting ready for the 113th Congress swearing in ceremony. South Capitol Street saw lines of cars as family members arrived to witness their loved ones take the oath of office for another two year term.
U.S. Capitol Police were in full force as officers created an environment that was secure and friendly. Officers gave directions to visitors and gave them instructions on what was allowed in the Capitol and what was not allowed. The work of the brave men and women of the United States Capitol Police at times goes unnoticed; however, it is truly one of the finest police forces in the world.
There were no signs of the cliff that has reverberated in headlines across the nation for the past months. Instead there were cameras taking pictures of mothers holding sons and daughters and husbands and wives beaming as one or the other prepared for another term of service to the United States of America and the voters back home.
It was a clear, sunny, albeit, cold day in Washington. Yet the sight of congressmen and congresswomen going about the business of the nation was refreshing to see after so much ink was spilled telling stories of gloom and doom.
The hallways were full of congressional staffers, invited guests, including your customer service reporter, who were allowed to witness history in the making. Having observed congress in session since 1979, the present writer arrived at the invitation of a congressman who had been interviewed earlier. The issue of the day was service to the customers of the government.
Telling people that the world is coming to an end or the nation is going off a fiscal cliff may attract viewers and sell newspapers; however, it also sends fear and panic across the nation when congressional leaders are doing everything in their power to resolve the nation’s business and fiscal problems.
John F. Kennedy wrote a Pulitzer Prize winning book entitled Profiles in Courage in 1956. It was a book that used examples of courageous leaders who were faced with problems far more serious than an imaginary cliff or a false prophesy about the end of the world. John F. Kennedy was not arrogant as he faced the Cuban Missile Crisis. He was as honest and truthful with the American people as possible. He did not frighten the American people with imaginary cliffs or false prophesies.
“Courage is the virtue that President Kennedy most admired. He sought out those people who had demonstrated in some way, whether it was on a battlefield or a baseball diamond, in a speech or fighting for a cause, that they had courage, that they would stand up, that they could be counted on. That is why this book [Profiles in Courage] so fitted his personality, his beliefs. It is a study of men who, at risk to themselves, their futures, even the well-being of their children, stood fast for principle. It was toward that ideal he modeled his life,” his brother, Robert Kennedy, said.
John Quincy Adams, Daniel Webster, Thomas Hart Benton, Sam Houston, Edmund G. Ross, Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar, George Norris, and Robert A. Taft each took the same oath of service to the people of the United States of America that the Speaker of the House gave to the 113th Congress. But Kennedy chose those leaders because they placed their convictions ahead of their careers in service to the United States of America.
Kennedy used the example of John Tyler of Virginia who chose to end his career rather than to give up his convictions. “I shall carry with me into retirement the principles which I brought with me into public life, and by the surrender of the high station to which I was called by the voice of the people of Virginia, I shall set an example to my children which shall teach them to regard as nothing any position or office which must be attained or held at the sacrifice of honor,” Tyler said.
Winston Churchill did not panic his people even as the Nazi leaders dropped bombs on England. Courage is grace under pressure. The scene on Capitol Hill yesterday was peaceful and orderly. Walking through the Cannon building, the Rayburn building, and the Longworth building showed the same quiet dignity that resounds in the halls of Congress year in and year out.
The 113th congress took an oath to serve the people of the United States of America and to tackle the thorny problems facing America with the courage that John F. Kennedy wrote about in his classic book . Watching the 113th Congress take the oath of office yesterday was a reminder that small businesses will open their doors as usual, schools will teach the children, and hospitals will tend to the sick. 12/21/12 did not bring the end of the world and no Americans fell off of the imaginary fiscal cliff.
Americans will continue to get up every morning and go to work or look for work.
All of the Congressional leaders pledged to serve the customers of the American government, the American people. Not one of them said they would serve if things were going good or if life did not get too rough.
“Our teenagers are being bombarded with a constant flow of negative reports and images,” was a statement made by one Congressman to the present writer January 2012. His words were true as the year unfolded. That Congressman took the oath of office yesterday. He promised to serve his constituents in Maryland. It is good that he also serves the people of the United States.
New leaders like U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy (D-MA) continue the legacy of the men that were listed in Profiles in Courage. The business of the nation will continue as problems will call for great leadership. The 113th Congress will answer that call.