LeRoy Pennysaver & News

LE ROY PENNYSAVER & NEWS - JANUARY 22, 2023 by Lynne Belluscio I recently watched an interview with Senator Patrick Leahy. He was talking about his retirement from his public career in Washington. He has written a book, “The Road Taken” and I ordered a copy and started to read it. I have to be honest, I’ve been thumbing through it to see what he has to say about a couple of stories he shared with a group of us who were in Washington in 2009 when the Henry Clay portrait from LeRoy was dedicated. That evening there was a buffet dinner in the antechamber of the Senate chamber. Senator Schumer got up and said a few words, then Senator Harry Reid and Senator Mitch McConnell stood up and each said a few words. As people began eating, Senator Leahy and his wife came to our table and asked if we’d like to go into the Senate Chamber. So, we followed him and his wife around the corner into the Senate. He showed us his desk and his wife pointed out that it really needed to cleaned, (we saw the desk always has candy in it) and Senator Lehey encouraged us, one by one, to go up to the chair where the Vice President sits. Then he said, “Follow me,” and he took us down to his office. He apologized, because he had just been assigned a new office. There were boxes on the floor, and it was obvious that he hadn’t moved in yet. He and his wife were leaving the next morning to see their family, so we didn’t have a lot of time. It was dark and the lights were just going on in Washington. The rest of our group from LeRoy was on a bus taking a tour of Washington after dark. Our little group, who had been at the dinner, crowded into the Senator’s office. He moved around his desk, and as he opened the huge window doors, we stared unbelievingly at the view in front of us. For there, spread out in front of us was the Mall - -all the way down to the Washington Monument. I think you could hear all of us take a deep breath. The view was so spectacular! Then the Senator proceeded to tell us what it was like to be in Washington on 9/11. He had business at the Supreme Court that morning when the first planes went into the Twin Towers. He immediately headed back to his office and was stopped by the police. He told them that he needed to get to his staff to make sure they were safe. There was more to the story that night and by the time we all got back to the dinner, everything had been cleaned up and we had to return to our hotel. As I thumbed through his book, I found the story on page 272 and started to read his account of 9/11. It all came back. So, I was curious to see if the Senator included the story of being in the Capitol on January 6, 2021. And did he remember our friend Henry Clay? Page 411. “I looked down at the shadows of the narrow n i n e t e e n t h - c e n t u r y marble staircase. It would be an inopportune time for a tumble. A police officer saw me pause. ‘I have bad depth perception,’ I explained. ‘That’s why I’m here, Senator’ said the officer.” I remember after that day, and after the photographs of Henry Clay looking down on the Senators hurrying down the staircase appeared on the news and I remember seeing the photographs of the people armed with guns and bats coming up the stairs. I called my friend who was working in security that day. “Did Henry Clay survive?“ “Yes he did. He’s doing very well.” I knew that I couldn’t ask about Senator Leahy, but the story continues in his book. And considering that Patrick Leahy has been in Washington for over four decades, there are indeed a lot of stories. The Road Taken