I am just back from Philadelphia where for the first time I visited Independence Hall, birthplace of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. I was shocked by how small and modest is the main room in which it all occurred – there is barely space enough for thirteen simple desks set side-by-side. The constitutional convention could have fit in my living room!
Independence Hall is remarkable but I could not enjoy it fully because I was disconcerted by the circumstances of my arrival. I flew into Philadelphia and of course was scanned, wanded, and de-shoed before boarding the plane – this I was prepared for – but it was depressing to walk from the Liberty Bell to Independence Hall and be subjected again and again to gates, armed guards, scanning, searching and surveillance. What is next? Will we be asked to show ID before entering the birthplace of liberty? The experience was upsetting.
It seems to me that the price of eternal vigilance is liberty.