You can#039;t go home again#039;

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 27, 2004

Each of us has heard the expression, &uot;you can’t go home again.&uot;

I don’t know the frame of reference when this expression was first coined, but I think you will agree with me that it has often been used to refer to experiences other than one’s family home.

This past weekend I spent several days in Washington, DC, a place where I served on a Congressional staff for seven years in the sixties and seventies, and this expression was very real in my mind.

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I have not been to Washington lately and what I found there was so unlike what I had earlier experienced that a very sad feeling came over me.

When my family and I lived in Washington and I served on the staffs of Congressman Tom Bevill and U.S. Senator Jim Allen, Washington was an open place, the atmosphere was very friendly, and the members of Congress and their staffs were eager for you to visit and stay as long as you had time to spend.

The long mall, which is the ground between the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial, had no buildings or monuments on it, and you could literally experience a calm and enjoyable time just walking from one site to another.

The famous cherry blossom trees bloomed along the Potomac and hundreds of people could be seen having picnics nearby.

It was just a wonderful, relaxing atmosphere where you felt like your government cared about you.

The United States Capitol, this past weekend, felt like an armed fortress.

You had to stand in long lines just to enter all the public buildings and upon reaching the entrance to the building you were searched and had to go through metal detectors.

Then if you went from one building to another underground, you had to be accompanied by a congressional staff member.

Once you got inside the Capitol building, many of the beautiful side rooms were off limits and some of the floors were entirely blocked from visitor access.

There are concrete barriers in front of almost every public building in Washington, and you are even told to remain seated for the final thirty minutes of a flight which goes into Washington National Airport.

Even the Congressmen have different attitudes than when I served for two outstanding members of Congress.

Our current Representatives actually leave Washington on the weekend, whereas my two &uot;bosses&uot; used to work five or six days a week just to answer mail, prepare legislation and otherwise spend time with constituents.

So instead of having a burning desire to spend time in a place I used to call home, I actually have little or no interest in going to Washington any more.

Things are quite different now, and I guess this lends credence to the saying that &uot;you can’t go home again.&uot;

Senator Wendell Mitchell can

be reached at 334-242-7883, or by writing

to P.O. Box 225, Luverne, AL 36049.