Smithsonian Castle

Smithsonian Institution Anniversary: A Great Cultural Icon For America!

Today marks the 169th birthday of the founding of the Smithsonian Institution, created with a grant by an Englishman, James Smithson, whose body is interred in a tomb in the original building of the institution, the Smithsonian Castle, which was dedicated by Congressman and former President John Quincy Adams in 1846, after legislation was signed into law by President James K. Polk.

Smithson was a chemist and mineralogist, who became the donor of the founding of an institution named in his honor, although Smithson never visited the United States, but he made it clear in his will of his great admiration for the United States, and desire to give a bequest for the promotion of learning and knowledge.

The institution named in Smithson”s honor has become the largest museum-educational complex in the world including 19 museums, 9 research centers, and a zoo, including among them the following:

National Air and Space Museum
National Museum of American History
National Museum of Natural History
National Portrait Gallery
National Museum of the American Indian
Smithsonian American Art Museum
National Museum of African American History and Culture
National Zoo

This pursuit of knowledge in the arts, sciences, culture, and history is a national treasure, and a “must see” for tourists in Washington, DC!

166th Anniversary Of Smithsonian Institution!

James Smithson, an Englishman, became the benefactor of a grant to start the institution named in his honor on this day in 1846.

Promoting the development and diffusion of knowledge of all kinds, Smithson, whose body is buried in the Smithsonian Castle in Washington, DC, could never have imagined how great the Smithsonian Institution has become, as it is now a complex of 19 museums and galleries plus the National Zoo, locations that provide enlightenment, enjoyment, and learning to millions of tourists in Washington DC and elsewhere at no cost to the public, other than taxpayer support.

The author, having just this summer visited four of the museums under its aegis–The Museum of American History, The Museum of Natural History, The Museum of Air and Space, and the Museum of the American Indian—was overwhelmed by the experience, and in 2015, there will be a Museum of African American History and Culture, and two years ago, the National Museum of American Jewish History opened in Philadelphia.

Any visitor to Washington DC or Philadelphia needs to make sure that he or she visits the various museums, as it is a memorable experience!

What The Virginia-Atlantic Coast Earthquake Reminds Us Of: Emergency Expenditures And Need For Infrastructure Investment, Meaning Higher Taxes!

We live in a time when many Americans like to dream that taxes will NEVER go up, and that somehow, we can live within the national budget, even though most Americans are finding if difficult to live within their own family budgets in the present economic crisis.

The Tea Party Movement has co-opted the Republican Party to such an extent that the campaign pitch for the GOP Presidential field and Congressional Republican leaders is that NEVER will they agree to ANY tax increases under any circumstances, a totally insane proposition!

But the events of yesterday, the Virginia-Atlantic Coast earthquake, 5.8 on the Richter scale, the greatest in about a century on the East Coast of the United States, demonstrated that such a proposition will have to be abandoned, whether one likes it or not!

The earthquake affected people from New England down to Atlanta and as far west as Chicago and as far North as Toronto, and it did noticeable damage to the National Cathedral, the Washington Monument, and the Smithsonian Castle in Washington, DC.

Obviously, money will have to be spent to fix these sites in the nation’s capital, and anywhere else where there was damage, at public expense!

But also, nuclear power plants along the Atlantic Coast are seen as in great danger, as they are outdated and need to be modernized. Also, the earthquake reminds us of the poor state of much of the entire nation’s infrastructure–harbors, canals, bridges, tunnels, highways, rail lines–much of it built long ago and in desperate need of major repairs, and often new building requirements to deal with natural disasters besides earthquakes, including tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, drought, volcanoes, rock slides, avalanches, and even tsunami threats!

This means we need to spend money on all kinds of public works projects, as we had done in the past, some of it with private investment included, but still with the absolute need for more public spending, which means more taxes, although it also allows for more employment, which could help to revive the American economy while dealing with real emergency situations!

Now the growing threat of Hurricane Irene, which is judged possibly to be the worst hurricane to hit the Northeast in many decades later this week, will add to the emergency spending crisis, and the need for infrastructure investment, but with the realization that MORE public spending will be unavoidable, no matter what the people of this country wish for!