Thursday, June 10, 2010

Region II Spotlight: Nation's Capital

DeMolay International divides its "Jurisdictions" (generally meaning a State or Country) into Regions. Pennsylvania is part of Region II which includes New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, Nation's Capital, Ontario (in Canada, eh?) and Italy. Our region has a long history of excellence, and is renowned for how well we work together in planning Regional Conferences and events such as the Mid Atlantic Tournament of Champions (MATOC for short.)

However, the average DeMolay doesn't really get to interact with members from other Jurisdictions unless he goes to one of these events. One of the most interesting things in DeMolay is how different each Jurisdiction can be while still working within the guidelines set forth by DeMolay International. In an effort to familiarize you with our sister Jurisdictions from our Region, this blog will present a series of "Region II Spotlight" articles to give you some information about DeMolay in Region II.

Region II Spotlight on Nation’s Capital
(Washington, DC)

Region II is politically diverse. We have two commonwealths (Pennsylvania and Virginia) a province (Ontario), a country (Italy), a bunch of states and one federal administrative district, The District of Columbia.
When the delegates to the Constitutional Convention were meeting they feared the influence of the large states on the new federal capital. The concern was a federal capital located in New York City would be too easily swayed by moneyed interests. James Madison pushed through the 1790 residence act which situated the national capital. At first the plan was to have the new capital city located between Maryland and Pennsylvania. The delegates from Virginia wanted it further south so the land was to be decided between the state of Maryland and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Both states ceded some territory to create a 100 mile square block of land where the Potomac and the Anacostia Rivers merged, that became the Territory of Columbia. At the time there were two cities already in the newly ceded federal land, the City of Georgetown and the City of Alexandria. President George Washington contracted out with a Frenchman named Pierre L’Enfant to lay out and design the new Federal City. 10 years later President John Adams and the United States Congress came to the new Federal City. The President and Congress, under the Organic Act of 1801, took control over the territory. The plan was never to really have voting citizens living in Washington, DC full time. The idea was to come to the city, do the work of the people and leave. Thus, DC was not a state and Washingtonians could not vote for Representatives or Senators to the Federal Congress.

The city itself was administered by commissioners appointed by the President of the United States. In 1812 the British in retribution for the burning of Toronto burned the Capitol and the White House. Later, In 1840, using something called “Retrocession,” the Commonwealth of Virginia took back their part of the District of Columbia which is now modern day Arlington County, VA and Alexandria, VA. During the Civil War the city was fired upon by the rebels and there is still a network of Civil War Forts around the city. Post Civil War, the Congress began to administer both the city of Georgetown and the City of Washington until the Organic Act of 1871, which made the entire city one entity. The city has seen some rapid growth spurts during major crisis. The great depression and resulting professionalization of the federal government by President, and Honorary Grand Master of DeMolay, Franklin Delano Roosevelt saw a rapid expansion of the District of Columbia. In 1971, after 170 years of being ruled directly by Congress, Washingtonians were given the right to elect a mayor and a city council. The actions of the City Council and the Mayor are subject to Congressional and Presidential Approval.

Washingtonians, like residents of Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands still lack voting representation in the United States House and any form of representation in the United States Senate even as it serves as the capital of the most powerful nation in the world.

Nation’s Capital DeMolay is the smallest jurisdiction in terms of size at only 68.3 square miles (in comparison, Philadelphia is 135 square miles) however, it is not the smallest DeMolay International Jurisdiction in terms of membership. Currently, Nation’s Capital DeMolay has 42 members meeting in Tenleytown-Chevy Chase Chapter and Robert Le Bruce Chapter. Nation’s Capital DeMolay is opening a new chapter on Capitol Hill. There is an elected Jurisdictional Master Councilor, Bro. Mike Xie, and a Deputy Jurisdictional Master Councilor, Bro. Chad Reichard (of PA's own George Washington Chapter! Chad was elected to this role as he is attending school in the District). They serve from March to March and are elected at a jurisdictional wide meeting. These young men serve on the Executive Officer’s Steering Committee and help to direct policy for Nation’s Capital DeMolay. The young men of Nation’s Capital DeMolay are aided by Executive Officer "Dad" Al Smith and his hardworking jurisdictional staff.

Some of the program highlights for Nation’s Capital DeMolay included the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, an annual trip to Hershey Park, laser tag nights, and game nights as well as a trip to the Washington Nationals and the Washington NFL team.

Nation’s Capital DeMolay is always pleased to meet up with visiting brothers coming into their Capital City. This year Nation's Capital will be hosting the Mid-Atlantic Tournament of Champions, in the heart of Washington, DC, and we would love to see you there!

Washington, DC Trivia:

The District of Columbia Flag, which has two stripes and three stars, comes from George Washington’s Family Crest.

The streets are laid out in a grid format with the center point being the US Capitol. From there letter and number streets branch out based on quadrants. For example if you are at C street and 3rd Northwest you are three blocks west of the US Capitol and three streets north. After you run out of letters it switches to syllables. So Albermale Street is followed by Brandywine, etc. Salt Lake City, UT is laid out in a similar fashion with Temple Square.

Every State has an avenue named for it in the National Capital. L’enfant’s first vision was to have the leading families from each of the states build magnificent homes on those streets. Thus the more prominent states where given more prominent locations. Pennsylvania, New York and Virginia all have very prominent positions downtown. As the Country expanded the city started to run out of avenues that were not already named. Thus, Idaho Avenue is more famous for connecting a police station to the Starbucks then it is for having an important governmental building on it. (It’s a great starbucks though!)

There is no J street in Washington, DC. You go from I street to K street. There is an urban myth that Pierre L’Enfant disliked Chief Justice John Jay and Jay’s treaty. Rather the I and the J in 18th century writing looked so similar that there was a concern about confusing people so they skipped the J.

Washington, DC is one of two planned national capitals in the Western Hemisphere, the other is Brasília, in Brazil.

The use of right angles, perpendiculars and diagonals let people see different images in the street plan.

In D.C. you can visit many foreign countries! Countries that the United States maintains diplomatic relationships with have offices in Washington, DC called embassies. Each embassy is sovereign land of that country. When you visit the Canadian Embassy on Pennsylvania Avenue you are on sovereign Canadian soil. During Halloween Washington Children (and college students!) go trick-or-treating up and down Embassy Row getting treats from the foreign countries.

Washington DC is home to a number of different sports teams including the Nationals (MLB), DC United (MLS), The Wizards (NBA), the Mystics (WNBA), The Capitals (NHL) and The Kastles (WTT). College basketball is also huge, with the Georgetown Hoyas, the University of Maryland Terps, and the George Mason Patriots.

Washington, DC has a height restriction on all buildings. Excluding the old post office pavilion, the National Basilica, and the Washington Monument nothing is allowed to be more than 10 stories tall in the District.

Washington, DC loves statues. The tallest statue in DC is the nineteen and a half foot statue of Freedom located on top of the US Capitol. The next tallest statue is the nineteen foot tall statue of Jefferson at the Jefferson Memorial.
Wow, now that's a lot of information about Nation's Capital!

Special thanks go out to "Dad" Peter Brusoe, Deputy Executive Officer for Nation's Capital DeMolay, for writing up this article. While the history of "Dad" Brusoe is a little sketchy, we do have some fun Brusoe trivia! "Dad" Brusoe loves Star Trek, and once took a trip to Las Vegas just to go a Star Trek themed exhibit that was scheduled to close. "Dad" Brusoe has served as the International Master Councilor for DeMolay International, although it is widely known that he was just a "puppet" dictator. If you think you'd like to get to know "Dad" Brusoe, he teaches for the Political Science department at American Univserity while he is earning his doctorate. We've been told his classes are very theraputic, especially for those with sleep deprivation.

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