This morning started out auspiciously as we made our way to the National Cathedral, the site of many presidential events. The National Cathedral was awe-inspiring, especially since it’s the only church of its kind anywhere in the U.S. Nowhere else will you see stained-glass murals dedicated to space travel, or to the pioneers and early formations of our nation. It was truly remarkable.
While we were there, a guest speaker, Karen Armstrong, spoke to the crowd of the multiple dimensions of religion. She was fascinating! As she spoke, new paradigms of thought were opened up to me as to the meaning of “belief” in a higher power.
After our religious encounter at the National Cathedral, we went back to our hotel to encounter – a protest! It wasn’t any ordinary protest. This protest was huge! The masses were collectively arguing for gay rights and marching through the city to the White House lawn. Professor Voth even witnessed a First Amendment tussle between protestors and a person who held a sign arguing against the gay rights movement.
As we walked to the Newseum, the gigantic First Amendment etching in stone on the side of the building acted as a silent reminder to the protestors below of the right they were exercising – the right to peaceably assemble.
At the Newseum we attended another taping of The Future of News with the guest speaker, author David Finkel. Mr. Finkel discussed the difficulties he encountered as an embedded journalist with the Army in Iraq. Out of his sojourn came a book titled The Good Soldiers, a remarkable narrative on soldiers’ quality of life while serving our nation on the frontlines. I bought his book, a first edition, and after the show, Mr. Finkel autographed it.
After the Newseum we had a bit of a break before heading to the SMU Alumni Reception at the Acadiana restaurant. James Glassman, the newly named director of the Bush Institute and former undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, arrived with his wife before everyone else. He gave us a brief rundown of what expectations he and his team have for the think tank developed specifically for the Bush Presidential Library at SMU. This was a truly amazing experience to hear the details of what we can expect. I can’t wait for the center to be built now that I understand what is coming to SMU. (In photo: James Glassman (center) with our group.)
Other alumni showed up, and the talkfest was on! To hear from the alumni of their success stories and how they got to where they currently are gave many people aspirations for greatness. These are ordinary people with extraordinary ambition who have made a difference in their lives as well as others. Their excellence in their professional lives is a testament to the values instilled in them by SMU.
Our last day arrives tomorrow, and so will my last blog entry.