Three Stars, Two Bars

Nate Rutledge, St. John's College High School

Nate Rutledge explains how D.C. informs his life and identity.

(Published: 2019)

“Oh, so you’re from the city?” I hear this question more than I would like to at my school. It does not even make much sense, because my school is technically in the city, just in the more suburban region. But, yes, I am from “the city,” though to me it is so much more than just a city. I was born and raised on Capitol Hill, in the heart of our nation’s capital: Washington D.C.

Growing up on The Hill has had a great influence on my identity. As the nation’s capital, D.C. is the country’s political center, and living here has made me very politically aware and active. My parents both work government jobs, and I have learned a great deal about the government from them. I have even seen Senators and Representatives out to dinner on more than one occasion.

This proximity to the people who shape our government is incredible, but the most important part of D.C.’s political influence over my life has not been the politicians, but the people. Due to its symbolic status, many protests and movements occur in D.C. During my life in D.C., I have taken part in several movements, such as the Women’s March, and the students march against gun violence. Seeing the impact of such movements has taught me that in our country it is essential for people to stand up for what they believe is right. I will continue to petition for our government’s protection of the people wherever I go.

In addition to its political influence, D.C. has had a large cultural influence over my life as well. I live on H Street, which is one of the most diverse areas of D.C. H street is a restaurant hub in the city, and I feel like the diversity of options reflects my city’s diversity. I could walk one block up my street and get Indian or Ethiopian food. I could walk two blocks up and get Polish, Ital ian, or Jamaican food. That’s just within two blocks!

This exposure to different types of food is reflective of how the city has exposed me to many types of people from various backgrounds. I am lucky to be in an area as culturally diverse as D.C because it has taught me how to build relationships with people who are seemingly different from myself.

In addition, the city’s flag holds a special place in my heart. The flag is based on the coat of arms of the family of George Washington. I think it is only fitting because much like Washington himself who fought against tyranny, Washington, D.C. has been the center of the people’s struggle against the tyranny we have faced within our borders, and in turn, we see there is always progress to be made.

Calling D.C. my home for the past 18 years has been an amazing experience. The city has become one of the most central parts of my identity and taught me to appreciate the differences between the various people I share the best identity with: being a Washingtonian.