Nancy Pelosi’s love for the Capitol began at just 6 years old: “The most beautiful building in the world”

Nancy Pelosi was just 6 years old the first time she ever saw the U.S. Capitol. But from that moment, she knew it was something special — and that she wanted to be part of its legacy. 

Pelosi, 82, described that first sighting on Thursday as she spoke from the House floor. It was during that speech that she said she will not pursue another term as House Democratic leader, ending her more than two decades in the role. 

But before she made that announcement, she paid ode to the Capitol in which she stood. 

“I will never forget the first time I saw the Capitol. It was on a cold January day when I was 6 years old,” she told her Congressional peers. She, her brothers and her father, Thomas D’Alesandro Jr., were going to the Capitol for his father to be sworn in for his fifth term in Congress. D’Alesandro represented Maryland from 1939 to 1949. 

“I was riding in the car with my brothers and they were thrilled and jumping up and down and saying to me, ‘Nancy! Look, there’s the Capitol!’ And every time, I’d say, ‘I don’t see any capital. Is it a capital A, a capital B or a capital C?'” she said. “And finally, I saw it: a stunning white building with a magnificent dome.” 

That dome would eventually become her office as well. About 40 years after that cold January day, Pelosi was elected to represent California and claimed her own seat on Capitol Hill. 

And from there, she spent decades making history. 

In 2007, she became the first woman elected Speaker of the House. She held onto the gavel until 2011, and then once again was heralded into the job in 2019. She’s held onto the role ever since, until her announcement on Thursday that she will resign from that leadership at the end of her current term. 

“I believed then as I believe today, that this is the most beautiful building in the world because of what it represents,” she told fellow House members on Thursday. “The Capitol is the temple of our democracy, of our Constitution, of our highest ideals.”

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