2013 has been a very special year of historical commemoration. We have celebrated the 150th anniversary of many defining moments in our nation’s history including the Emancipation Proclamation, the start of the first transcontinental railroad, and President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. This week we celebrate another, the Capitol Dome anniversary. On December 2, 1863 the Capitol Dome was crowned with the Statue of Freedom and deemed complete.
CBS News was given special permission to fly over the Capitol in order to film footage of the dome structure and tell the story of its construction on 60 Minutes. Since 9/11, helicopter filming has been extremely rare in Washington. All aircraft without a pre-approved flight plan or official government duty is not permitted to fly within a 15-mile radius of Reagan National Airport, according to a FAA ban. The close-up views of the dome and Statue of Freedom are not to be missed! You can see them in the video below.
[pullquote style=”right” quote=”dark”]“If people see the Capitol going on, it is a sign we intend the Union shall go on.” – Abraham Lincoln[/pullquote] On that day in December, the bronze Statue of Freedom was set in place and a 35 gun salute heralded the completion of the cast-iron dome. The dome of the Capitol would become the most recognizable profile of our national landmarks. At the time of its completion, however, the country was pitted in the Civil War. The Capitol construction was filled with controversy and its future uncertain. It’s completion became a symbol for future of our country.
Today groups can tour the Capitol building and stand beneath the Capitol dome, looking upwards at the beautiful fresco of The Apotheosis of George Washington by Constantino Brumidi. The tour starts with an 13-minute introductory film that sets the stage for the Capitol building construction, how the country established a new form of government, and the role of Congress in the daily lives of Americans. Tours visit the Crypt, the Rotunda, and Statuary Hall. In the Capitol’s Visitor Center, students can see a full-size plaster model of the Statue of Freedom. A tour of the Capitol is an experience you will never forget!
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