WOSTER: State Capitol building never fails to impressI’ll say this about social media: If I hadn’t created a Twitter account, I would never have known that other people think it’s cool to work in the state Capitol building.
By: Terry Woster, The Daily Republic
I’ll say this about social media: If I hadn’t created a Twitter account, I would never have known that other people think it’s cool to work in the state Capitol building.
I know a young man who grew up in Pierre, went off to college and then returned to work in state government. I knew him when he was a high school kid. I knew his parents before him and at least one set of grandparents before that. I began following him on Twitter when I joined the social media set, and that’s how it has come to pass that I know how he feels about working in the Capitol.
What he tweeted was, “Even after 10 years, it is a blast and honor to work in this building every day.” I can relate, as we used to say in group sessions around the campfire.
I worked every day in the Capitol building for the first eight or so years that I lived in Pierre. The Associated Press bureau was on the fourth floor behind the House chamber, and every morning I’d walk around the lake from home, enter the east door and climb the stairs past the Supreme Court clerk’s office on the second floor and the Speaker’s Lobby on the third floor to the top floor, where I’d unlock the AP office door and step into a world of clattering, chattering teletype machines.
Nearly every day — once in a while I forgot, but not often — as I rounded the lake and headed up the sidewalk that borders the curved front driveway, I’d pause to admire the Capitol building. Depending on the time of the season, the dome would either already be lit by the morning sun or reflecting just a rose-colored hint of the breaking dawn. It was enough to take a grown man’s breath away.
In those moments, I tell you, I felt just as my younger friend says he feels. It was a blast and honor to work in that building. I wasn’t a part of the government the building represents, but as a reporter I felt I was part of what the nation and my state were all about. Besides, as a citizen, the Capitol belongs to me, and I belong in it, just in case anyone had a lingering question of the legitimacy of my feelings.
I find that many people feel that way about the Capitol and the capital city. Many years ago I wrote of the feeling of coming home that swept over me when I drove north on Highway 83 and reached the spot near Nielsen’s corner where the lights of Pierre are first visible on a clear night. A number of people reached me to say they had the same feeling at the same spot. I suppose there are travelers who only see those lights as a destination. Those of us who live here see them as home.
A few years ago, when Don Rounds was still putting in time as sergeant at arms in the Senate, he stopped me one legislative morning as I entered the Capitol. Don, who has been around Pierre a long, long while, took my arm and led me to the exit at the northwest side of the Capitol. We walked out into the parking lot, and then we turned and he pointed up.
The glancing light from the rising sun on the opposite side of the Capitol created the most amazing patterns across the curve of the dome looming directly above us.
“That’s my favorite view of this building,” Don said. It is one I like very much, too, now that I know where and when to look.
It isn’t my favorite, though. My favorite is the view I see each night from my own bedroom window. It’s a straight shot across the neighbor’s lawn, through the trees and across the lake to the Capitol dome.
Late in the evening, it is a truly marvelous scene. I can’t remember the last time I failed to pause at the window before turning in.
From now on when I do that, I will think to myself, “This, too, is a blast and honor.”