INDIANAPOLIS – A few blocks from the place in Berlin where Rep. David Ober and his sister spent part of their Christmas holiday, a terrorist had rammed a truck into a scenic market killing and injuring dozens.
But when Ober, R-Albion, visited the market just days after the attack, there were few signs of the violence that shattered the holiday. The market was up and running. The only reminders were makeshift memorials and the concrete barriers placed by the government to protect from other possible attacks.
Ober, at 29 the youngest member of the Indiana House, said he never feared for his safety during his trip. But he saw that many of the buildings and museums had heightened security.
He was struck by how security for European airports did not seem to be as tight as those in the United States.
He described the Amsterdam airport which uses a system of conveyor belts to check bags. Fliers place their bags on a belt where it goes through standard security checks. Luggage that draws attention of officials can be diverted to a separate belt where it can be checked by security.
“I think it took us five minutes to get through security,” Ober said. “It was really convenient, but we didn’t feel like we sacrificed security in order to get through quickly.”
He said he would like to see airports in the United States implement some of the procedures used by Europeans.
In two and a half weeks, Ober and his sister, Sarah, visited five countries and spent time in London, Paris, Rome, Venice, Prague, Berlin and Amsterdam.
While visiting museums and World War II memorials, he also made time to see other countries government buildings such as the Doge’s Palace in Venice, Italy.
“I find it interesting to go and see other government buildings and kind of see how other governments operate and how it’s different or similar to us,” he said.
Ober said the part of the allure of going to Europe is seeing how history shaped it. On a tour in Berlin, he learned that city had recently celebrated its 750th anniversary.
“The biggest city in my district, Kendallville, just celebrated 150 years, and our country is less than 250 years [old],” he said. “So, you’re in a city where they’ve got a government that’s been set up and they’re celebrating 750 years which is five centuries older than our country.”
He said he was impressed by the number of people who spoke fluent English wherever he traveled.
One of the biggest surprises Ober experienced was when he saw the kinds of problems faced by people in the United Kingdom.
“Their system of government is much older and quite a bit different from ours. But they still have some of the same issues that we face,” Ober said. “It’s roads and mass transportation and pollution and all that other stuff. They still deal with the same problems that we have over here.”
Ober did not come back with any major inspiration for legislation, but he said he would like to join the American Council of Young Political Leaders, a leadership exchange program for which he has been nominated. The ACYPL was created by President Kennedy to build diplomatic relationships with other countries and learn about their system of government.
“They’ll do trips to foreign countries where you’re with members of their government, and they’ll take you through and kind of introduce their format of government and you build these bonds with other countries,” he said.
Abrahm Hurt is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.