When thinking about what makes a place important, there are differences to be considered for Washington. D.C., the capital of our nation, hosts the most powerful politicians, agencies, and organizations in our country and possibly in the world. This city is inherently important, but who made it this way? WE THE PEOPLE. At some point in our history, our founding fathers decided that a new city, the District of Columbia, was where our capital would be. This city had a destiny like not many others had in the past, with an intentional inception and purpose. With this in mind, I think about the spirit of the city and I am perplexed. If I were to say that the most photographed elements of D.C. are what made up the city’s spirit, monuments, white houses, and capitol buildings, I would be very wrong. What makes the spirit of this city different than that of any other city? Most of the people who inhabit these important sites are not from D.C. and do not stay in D.C. In a city of commuters and temporary residents, the most representative aspect of this place that may be deemed the spirit of the district is WE THE PEOPLE. Those who make up this city are those who live here full time, who were born here, who stay here. PEOPLE make places special in the history they create there every day. WE THE PEOPLE put Washington D.C. on the map by making history there each day and the citizens of Washington D.C. continue to make it a worthwhile place to be and to live by simply existing there, living their lives.
Democracy is without a doubt a part of the spirit of D.C., how could it not be? However, it would be unfair to attribute an entire city’s worth to its political weight when so much of the citizenry has fought for the rights they still have not fully attained. One important fact about D.C. is that its citizens do not have representation in the legislative branch of the government. Because of the way that the district was designed, there was no autonomy factored into its government, leaving most of the power within Congress. Today, D.C. citizens fight for their right to autonomy and to give their local government the power it should be entitled to. I feel that this fight is representative of the spirit of Washington D.C. WE THE PEOPLE are given rights through the constitution to fight for what we believe is fair and just, making the protest of representation even more representative of D.C. in that it features WE THE PEOPLE partaking in the politics which engulfs and sometimes overshadows a place that, at then end of everything, is just a piece of earth.
A third element that must come into play when describing the spirit of D.C. is its universal influence. Here, on this very soil, decisions are made that can affect every country in the world. This severe burden contributes to the seriousness of the city, which is also reflected by the amount of people in suits you encounter on a daily basis walking through the streets. From an outsider’s perspective, you cannot help but feel powerful as you walk through streets that have far reaching and global influence. Before visiting D.C., I had not ever thought about what it was like to be in this space. Today, I feel power, activism, and globalism pulsing through my body through association. A great nation was built here, so many important people have breathed this air, and yet, those who deserve the credit are the citizens of this district that oftentimes are forgotten for the more prominent faces of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.