Its gold dome glittering in the sunshine, the Massachusetts State House remains closed to the public until further notice. What a sobering statement about the times in which we live.

Access to the State House has been limited since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic nearly a year ago. The attack on the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. has resulted in increased security at the State House, at times making it appear more like an armed encampment.

The current State House that overlooks the Boston Common from high atop Beacon Hill opened in 1798 at a cost of just more than $133,000. Legend (and Wikipedia) has it the dome, which was built of wood, was covered with sheets of copper by Paul Revere in 1802. It wasn't until 1874 that the dome was gilded in gold leaf.

As the Capitol Building is to the nation, the Massachusetts State House is to Massachusetts. It is a tribute to who we are and what we are about. The State House represents the seat of government in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It is a National Historic Landmark. It is the people's house.

For months, the people's house has been closed to all but those who work there. Access is denied to those who wish to immerse themselves in this living, breathing museum. There have been no school field trips to the State House since the pandemic began.

The State House is also under increased security. The threat of violence prompted Boston Police to surround the State House with barriers and a heavy police presence on Sunday. The scene was repeated in statehouses across the nation as the inauguration creeps closer and fear of violence intensifies.

The nation's Capitol appears as though it is preparing for an invasion.

What an image all of this must project to the rest of the world. The beacon of light. The land of the free and the home of the brave. America, cowering behind barbed wire and military troops to fulfill its promise of a smooth transition of power from one administration to another.

My heart aches at the sight.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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