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Detour Ahead

Beginning today the basement corridor in the East Front extension will be closed due to construction of the Capitol Visitor Center. It will reopen in 2005. [IMGCAP(1)]

Two 25-passenger elevators and new stairwells will be installed in the area to provide access between the Capitol and the visitor center.

Improvements will also be made to mechanical systems in the corridor.

Members and staff will receive a “Dear Colleague” letter outlining alternate routes, and signs have been posted to assist staff-led tours.

“Prior planning will be the key to everyone’s success in navigating around the construction zone,” CVC spokesman Tom Fontana said.

Just Say No. The Washington, D.C., screening of the HBO documentary “Crank: Made in America” will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Room 216 of the Hart Senate Office Building.

The event — sponsored by the Speaker’s Task Force for a Drug-Free America, the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, and the Congressional Caucus to Fight and Control Methamphetamine — will feature National Drug Control Policy Director John Walters and Asa Hutchinson, Homeland Security undersecretary for border and transportation security.

Welcome Party. The U.S. Capitol Historical Society will formally welcome the freshman lawmakers at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Statuary Hall.

The Welcoming Reception for New Members of 108th Congress honors the 11 new Senators and 55 new House Members. Each will be given an educational DVD provided by Microsoft Corp. titled “The U.S. Capitol: a Vision in Stone.”

After remarks by both Senate and House leaders, the USCHS will lead tours of the Capitol.

Banner Proposal. Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) recently introduced a resolution encouraging the display of the Blue Star Banner or Gold Star.

The Blue Star Banner is flown by those with an immediate family member on active military duty; the Gold Star is displayed by those who have lost a loved one in service to the nation.

“This resolution recognizes that military service during wartime requires dedication and sacrifice by both members of the armed forces and by the family who awaits their safe return,” Shadegg said.

This practice was first embraced by families during World War I but has diminished since the end of World War II. Shadegg hopes his resolution, which is scheduled to reach the House floor this week, will rejuvenate the tradition.

The banners can be downloaded for free at the American Legion’s Web site,

— Jennifer Yachnin, Bree Hocking, Anna Palmer and E. Annie Hall

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