A clap of thunder sounded above me; dark clouds swirled about the heavens as if someone from above was mixing a boiling cauldron and about to pour the contents over my head. It was not two minutes later that I was soaked. Welcome to Boston, I said to myself. I learned many things on my road trip across the East Coast. In Boston, I learned about things like rain and humidity, of which I, a Native Arizonian, knew nothing. In Philadelphia, I learned the proper way to order a Philly cheese steak, and in D.C., my final stop, I learned that the friendships I had cultivated on my trip would be long lasting. These memories are sure to last forever, along with the valuable lessons of government, history, and the sacrifices American soldiers have paid for me.
This trip has taught me about American government. I visited sites such as the Whitehouse and the chambers of the Senate, where I was able to see a live discussion. I also visited memorial sites of America’s greatest government leaders. I saw the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Washington Memorial. That night, I asked myself why I would want to be friends with our nation’s first leader. I decided that it was because George Washington was a prime example of a role model. He was a leader and yet he was humble. He had power and yet he did not seek it. He wanted what was best for the United States.
This trip also taught me much about America’s history. Our first stop was the same stop as the pilgrims: Plymouth Rock. As I stepped off the bus, I looked for a towering rock, the rock on which I had been told from childhood was the rock on which the Mayflower had landed. I was in for quite an awakening; “the” Plymouth Rock was smaller than me! On the second day of the trip, at one stop, our bus arrived at the Freedom Trail. This trail was a three mile walk through early American history and was a wonderful experience because it showed me a small part of the struggles early Americans went through to achieve freedom from the British.
Finally, I learned of the sacrifices American soldiers have made for me. When I speak of cemeteries, what do you see in your mind’s eye? I know what I saw before this trip. If someone had asked me to make an artistic piece of a cemetery, I would have hastily cut out little white squares and pasted them on a green piece of construction paper. I do not see this now.
One day, our tour visited a small church with a little memorial garden. In the center of the garden was an upright rack which held the dog tags of American men who had fought for my freedom. The small silver squares sparkled in the light breeze that blew through the garden.
The next day, we visited Arlington National Cemetery. At first glance, I saw it as green hills with small white squares sprinkled in rows. Then, I saw a more poignant picture, a dynamic indicator that freedom is not free. I saw it in the red rose petals sprinkled across a grave. I heard it in the shots at the grave site. I felt it in the eyes of the crying mother. I understood it in the colorful and busy city that stood behind the green hill, a colorful and busy city that stood because of the sacrifices these men had made.
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