Students participating in WHIP enjoyed an opportunity most DC tourists can only wish for: a tour of the White House.
A colleague of junior Jonathan Moy’s, who is a former chief of staff, arranged a tour for Moy and three others, including fellow Washington Hillsdale Internship Program students junior Razi Lane and senior James O’Rourke.
The group had to pass extensive security checks. The names on their tickets were checked against Social Security numbers, birthdates, and other information. In fact, Moy said that he was pulled aside for around 15 minutes while security made calls to verify his identity.
Despite the many hurdles slowing entry to the White House, Moy said that the tour was worthwhile.
“I got to see a room that used to be a president’s dining room, in which the families would eat their lunches and dinners until a new room was created in the ‘70s and ‘80s,” Moy said. “I was thinking, ‘you know what, this is the room where Abraham Lincoln ate his lunch or dinner with his family, as did many other presidents.’ It was just a very sobering moment, being in the same room [that] Lincoln was in.”
Moy added that he felt every room held pieces of history.
“Walking through the Red, Green, and Blue rooms, there are a lot of ancient works of art or sculptures as if you were walking through a Mount Vernon or something like that,” Moy said.
O’Rourke said that in addition to appreciating the significance of the White House to American history, he also enjoyed the portraits of often-forgotten presidents– and their facial hair.
“There was a set of three portraits near the gift shop that I considered a line-up of forgotten presidents: Grover Cleveland, Calvin Coolidge, and Chester Arthur,” O’Rourke said. “While I have a fondness for the wits and characters of Coolidge and Cleveland, I favored Arthur’s portrait because I revere his mutton-chops as perhaps the most unique presidential facial hair.”
Lane said his favorite portrait was of James Madison. Although it was smaller than the other portraits, he said he thought it represented Madison’s humility. He said that each portraits gave those fortunate enough to see them an insight into the leaders of America and into America herself.
“I most enjoyed the portraits on the wall because they tell the story of America,” Lane said. “From Madison to Reagan, our White House captures the legacy of American ideas, principles, and spirit.”