by Michael Dee, 2010 APAICS Intern
For the past three weeks I have been working as a Senate Doorkeeper for the United States Senate Sergeant at Arms. My job involves escorting visitors to the senate gallery and checking in their electronics and bags at the CVC. Additionally, I also have elevator duties on some weeks where I get to take the Senators (and some visiting House members) to different floors. While some of these tasks can be monotonous at times, getting a chance to interact with the Senators is definitely a mind opening experience. The experience has reshaped my opinion about many Senators whose politics I strongly disagree with but who were extremely polite and cordial with me in person. The media and partisan politics often seek to vilify the other side, but when you actually have a chance to chat with them, you realize that you have more similarities than differences.
Other perks of this job include the amazing opportunities that we’ve had presented to us. For instance, last Friday I was able to go on a Capital Dome Tour: a normally restricted tour that takes us up to the top of the dome. It was an amazing experience because it is one that few have ever seen and it exposes us to many historical sights (including graffiti from a Union soldier in 1869). Another unique duty given to Senate Doorkeepers is that we raise the flag on the capital every morning. My fellow APAICS intern Sondra and I have been able to do this numerous times. One of the final experiences – and perhaps the most amazing one – was being on hand for Senator Byrd’s repose in the Senate chamber and witnessing the historical swearing-in of Senator Inouye as the first Asian-American President Pro Tempore.
Of all the perks of the job, the most exciting experience is interacting every day with the different men and women who work at the capital. While chatting with Senators is a humbling and amazing experience, being able to talk to capital police, other doorkeepers, supervisors and pages gives you a great idea of how different our lives are. Some of the interns come from the South, others come from extremely wealthy political families and others are just college students looking for an exciting summer. While our backgrounds are different, we share many similar personality traits and interests. This in turn allows me to see that as Americans, even if we disagree politically and come from different areas, we still share many common beliefs. Chief among them is our strong love of the United States and the belief that our government works and that it requires the participation of thousands of individuals working towards the greater good.
Michael Dee is a 2010 APAICS Summer Intern placed with the U.S. Senate Sergeant at Arms. He is currently studying Political Science and Public Law at the University of California, San Diego.