From my perch outside the Capitol, I had a fine view of the president driving up Pennsylvania Avenue to address Congress the other night, and what a sight it was.
All streets within two blocks of the Capitol had been closed. Helicopters overhead, a 38-car motorcade and 18 motorcycles, all of them roaring on to the heavily barricaded Capitol, which is now guarded by police and National Guard troops.
Is the heavy security necessary? Only a fool would say no.
But it made me feel old, and it made me mad, because what I was seeing was so different from the Washington I saw when I came here in 1969, so different that it was like being in another country.
Back then, people came and went as they pleased. Tourists strolled through our national buildings and monuments at will. Now there is so much security, they can't get close most of the time.
When I covered the Pentagon back in the 1970s, I didn't even need a press pass to get in.
All of that changed in the '80s when terrorists bombed our Marine barracks in Lebanon.
The barricades went up, and every year since the security has become more oppressive and more necessary.
And that's what grates on me. When we can't walk freely through the monuments and buildings that are the symbols of our freedom, we're paying a higher price to terrorists than we may even have realized. And it didn't start on 9/11.
I hate those barricades and what they have done to the most beautiful capital city in the world. But for me, they are the daily reminders that this war has been coming for a long time, and why it must be won no matter how much longer it takes.
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