Congressman Paul Tonko, left, and Rotterdam Junction Fire Dept. Chief Shawn Taylor stand outside the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, Jan. 24.
ROTTERDAM JUNCTION Attending President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address was a memorable experience for Rotterdam Junction Fire Department Chief Shawn Taylor, but it also made for a productive trip.
Taylor’s day started normally enough on Tuesday, Jan. 24, before he left on an afternoon flight to attend the president’s address as the guest of Congressman Paul Tonko. Taylor paid for his flight, one-night stay and food, but the experience itself was priceless.
Although Tonko offered to have someone meet him at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Taylor declined since he is familiar with Washington, D.C, and knew his way around town.
“I hit the hotel and got my stuff together and went into the Capitol building,” Taylor said. “As you can imagine, there was quite a bit of security.”
From there, Taylor’s night became progressively more dramatic. Entering the Capitol Building and grabbing his seat in the House of Representatives involved traveling down long tunnels underground. There is no road access to the Capitol for security purposes.
“It is a long, wide and almost big enough to drive a vehicle through with a catwalk to the right side and they have artwork displayed all through the tunnel,” Taylor said. “It is kind of neat. It is like a tunnel/art exhibit … it was pretty cool.”
Once he reached the end of the tunnel at the basement of the Capitol, he went through several security checkpoints with armed guards posted. He said in just one section he passed through three metal detectors.
“Every corner or every corridor has somebody working each end of it and in the center,” he said, “so you are making a lot of right hand, left hand turns and there is somebody at every corner. They really play no games with security there. There are definitely enough security guards all over the place.”