Saturday 20 Apr 2019 | 14:05 | SYDNEY
Saturday 20 Apr 2019 | 14:05 | SYDNEY

Three DC experiences


Fergus Hanson


5 October 2011 10:44

For the next few months I'm fortunate enough to be based in Washington, DC. Like most foreigners who come here, I'm endlessly surprised by the place. Here are three things from the last few days that struck me.

First, for those who believe in the separation of church and state, Sunday morning was a curious day. It marked Red Mass, where the Supreme Court justices attend a special mass often with either the president or the vice-president (Obama is actually yet to attend). Now in its 57th year (although the tradition dates back to 13th century Europe), Washington Archbishop Donald W Wuerl said, 'Your presence here is witness to the importance our nation places on the rule of law.'

Second is the very comprehensive security afforded to the president. The last few weeks have seen a few nearby presidential fundraisers that bring with them a sense of shock and awe. Police cars and secret service agents are stationed on every corner for blocks and blocks, hours in advance. On the street where the event is taking place, tow trucks line up to haul away every car in sight, and when POTUS arrives, streets are completely blocked off to cars and even residents walking home, while helicopters hang out overhead. Some ingrates complain.  

Third, I am seriously impressed by the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. One thing that has always struck me about Australia is that even though international polling shows people around the world identify Australia closely with its indigenous culture and heritage, we have never had the vision to establish a dedicated Aboriginal Museum. In fact, the closest thing is actually located in The Netherlands.

The Americans, by contrast, have done a very impressive job of telling a holistic story that isn't caught in the past or fixated on a single area like art or artifacts. There's even a café that serves American Indian food. The buffalo is pretty good. 

Photo by Flickr user SnoShuu.