It seems that most nation and state capitols have a dome, or rotunda. Each has a story to tell, with its own unique history.
Although I’ve seen firsthand the U.S. Capitol Rotunda a few times during my visits there, I didn’t have the particular desire at the time to learn more of its history – only to absorb its uniqueness and beauty.
Why not? Maybe, as I mature, I realize the significance of what has transpired to where we are today. I realize there are myriads of untold stories and facts that await discovery.
The U.S. Capitol Rotunda is a large, domed, circular room in the center of the United States Capitol on the second floor. It is used for important ceremonial events such as the lying in state of eminent citizens and the dedication of works of art.
The Rotunda canopy features the painting entitled The Apotheosis of Washington, and the walls hold historic paintings along with a frescoed band, or “frieze,” depicting significant events in American history.
The Apotheosis was painted in 11 months at the end of the Civil War, soon after the new dome was completed, for $40,000. The figures, up to 15 feet tall, were painted to be intelligible from close up as well as from 180 feet below. (Note: The word “apotheosis” means literally the raising of a person to the rank of a god, or the glorification of a person as an ideal, as George Washington was honored as a national icon in the nineteenth century).
My personal opinion about this attempt to show George Washington in this elevated state would have upset this humble, respected leader. He didn’t even want to continue being president, and certainly didn’t want to be considered king – hence why he returned to his home and family to allow others to be selected by the people to lead the nation.
Some of the groups and
figures in the Rotunda were inspired by classical and renaissance images.
George Washington is depicted in the center of the fresco rising to the heavens in glory, flanked by female figures representing liberty and victory/fame. A rainbow arches at his feet, and thirteen maidens symbolizing the original states flank the three central figures. Six groups of figures line the perimeter of the canopy.
Just below the apotheosis and windows of the dome is the frieze, containing a painted panorama of significant events in American history.
I’ll provide some of the artist’s background and a few more details in my next post. I thought it was interesting.
I wonder how many people over the ages have been to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida? This blog is not an adventure to gather statistics but as a point of curiosity.
I have made countless trips in the Florida Disney Theme Parks and mostly venture to Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. My favorite thing to do is just walk around and pop in a ride if the line isn’t too long.
In 2016 I intentionally backed off of the visits but decided to return recently. There remains that certain feeling of adventure, excitement and escape from the daily routine that I missed.
This visit was only for a few hours just to see how the crowds were doing, and if nothing else, just walk around. I don’t have to ride every ride before I find enjoyment . In fact, I don’t have to ride ANY rides to find enjoyment. Have you ever just gone there, or any other favorite park, and simply observe the people, architecture, landscape, colors, pageantry and the like? That’s what I mostly enjoy.
After years of being at Magic Kingdom we just happened to be at the right place at the right time upon entering and noticed the retreat ceremony preparing to start. I had never noticed this before. We decided to wait and watch.
With Disney-like precision the honor guard members formed, the band appeared and the color guard stood at attention to receive the flag of the United States of America.
The band strikes the chord and the honors begin. The sound of retreat is played by the brass section, signifying securing of the U.S. flag at the end of day. Crowds gathered and most rendered their own salute to the Star Spangled Banner (National Anthem), which renews the feeling of patriotism.
The flag slowly flows from its lofty perch on the staff. It is now secure. Respect has been shown and the show goes on as people from all walks of life, nationalities and cultures from the world express their excitement in the events that unfold throughout the park.
I wonder! What do people from other nations think about this patriotism? Also, as one looks over or through the crowds, can you determine who is from North America, South America, Asia, Australia, Europe, Africa?
Don’t we all want to enjoy life? Don’t we all want to live in freedom, laugh, play, rear our children, make life meaningful and prosper? What if we had a similar peace throughout the world like we experience at Disney as we are respectful of one another and desire good will upon each. Wow! No doubt the world would be better for humankind and people won’t need to live in fear.
The People Mover is one of my favorite activities at Disney. It’s just an easy, simple ride on a tram-like cart traveling through attractions and is quite relaxing. I can’t believe there was a line for this one this time. We usually walk right on. However, the 20-minute wait wasn’t bad.
As night erupted, mixed with the colorful sky and the various rides where laughter ring out, my mind focuses on the color exhibited by the vast array of showcases. Actually, can you see the castle behind this picture of color at one of the attractions. We traveled on the People Mover and the lights screamed out at me to get my attention. I couldn’t resist.
We get so caught up in instant success and instant gratification we often become very impatient while we’re trying to relax and have fun, right?
Well, I’ll look for another trip and plan around the time when I can just enter attractions without a line. And, if there is a line, I’ll walk around again and take in the sights and sounds like before.
I am pleased though to see the laughter and excitement on faces of old and young alike, from all walks of life throughout the globe, as they too enjoy the moment to simply “live.” What is your escape from the harshness and routine of life?
Well, my thoughts wondered again. I wanted to see another of my favorite Disney attractions in the three short hours of this visit.
The Hall of Presidents is always an inspiring venue that reminds me of the leadership and sacrifices of our presidents over the years to keep the United States of America free as a democracy so that all those who seek freedom and peace can still see the beacon of hope.
I often take a look at the items on display in the Hall foyer before proceeding into the main auditorium. I attempt to visualize and absorb what these plain, everyday-type artifacts represent. To me these are small reflections of those who led our nation at their respective times and still carried on their daily lives as well.
The Hall has a great, patriotic presentation in the auditorium. I enjoy seeing and hearing the comments from George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama, and in the future – Donald Trump. It’s amazing to see the likeness and interaction of the figurines as each president is introduced.
We may not have a long heritage like some nations do but we have a proud heritage – and one that we want to maintain so that other people of the world can still look to the U.S. as a nation that desires peace and prosperity for all, and that we still are a beacon for anyone who wants to live peacefully and make a life full of meaning to benefit the human race.
As the U.S. embarks on another inauguration of a president, how different will President Trump be from President Washington, or Lincoln, Jackson, Cleveland, Roosevelt, Ford, on and on? That’s what I wondered as I visited the Hall of Presidents again. Just like all the presidents before, they were given the opportunity to lead a nation – “One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” May God help us to still stand undivided in this nation, and the nations of the world, for those who yearn to be free and enjoy life to the fullest, without fear, threat or intimidation.
Life is too short to not enjoy it with full meaning and in peace. Let’s allow time to become our ally.