December 2 has been an important anniversary at the U.S. Capitol since 1863 when the final section of the Statue of Freedom was installed atop the dome. The accomplishment was heralded by gun salutes from the forts that ringed Washington.
Since 2008, however, December 2 has signified another important anniversary for the Capitol. Four years ago, on December 2, 2008, the Capitol Visitor Center (CVC) opened for business. Nearly nine million visitors later, we are still going strong.
As we mark the four-year anniversary of the CVC this week I’m reminded of that day when we opened the largest expansion of the U.S. Capitol in history to the public – no easy feat considering it had to be built entirely underground.
I was the third member to join the CVC’s operations staff 11 months before its opening. On December 2, 2008, when we finally opened our doors I was moved to see the work of my colleagues move from conception to reality, from Gantt charts, spreadsheets and blueprints to a visitor experience worthy of the U.S. Capitol Building and the millions of Americans that walk through its doors each year.
Just before opening of the CVC we got to invite our friends and family to preview and test the visitor experience. They went through security in the new screening zone; they watched the movie, “Out of Many, One,” that precedes all tours; and then they took an abbreviated tour of the Capitol. My mother teared up during the movie – she said it made her proud to be an American. I knew then our mission was achieved, and since that day we continue to strive to inspire the visitors to the U.S. Capitol with this same experience.
I was proud to join the CVC team as its third employee in 2008, and today – four years after opening our doors – I’m even prouder to be part of a team of 600 that get to introduce citizens to their nation’s Capitol.
Visit www.visitthecapitol.gov to learn more about the Capitol Visitor Center and plan a trip to the United States Capitol.