My journey began in June of 2009 when I was selected to attend the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour, on as one might say was “The Trip of a Lifetime”, to our nation’s capitol, Washington D.C.
I was one of approximately 40 juniors from across Arkansas to leave from our capitol, Little Rock, via chartered coach on this exciting adventure, instilling in me a great respect and pride for our country and it’s leaders.
Our first stop was Appomattox Courthouse National Historic Park in Virginia where the final battles were fought in the Civil War and General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Confederate Army to Lieutenant Ulysses S. Grant.
Onward to see such sights at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, eating at the famous Michie Tavern were we saw old time demonstrations in cooking and dance, drank from tin cups and gave a toast to our new friendships.
Off to the great Memorials of FDR, Jefferson, and Lincoln at the National Mall, learning the impacts they themselves made on our country. FDR in his wheelchair, Thomas Jefferson, one of founding fathers being honored with a bronze statue.
Next, Arlington Cementery, all I can say is what a piece of history to look across this acreage and all you can see are the white tombstones where those who fought for our freedom lay to rest. The Eternal Flame grounds will make your chest rise with pride while at the same time bringing tears to your eyes.
Then came 2009 Youth Day, where 1500 High School Juniors from all over the USA came together to exchange state pins and become our own part of history. Each of the 40 students proudly holding a Razorback pin, waiting for the next opportunity to share their story and make a new friend, A cruise and dance made the end of this night unforgetable.
Next day, walls and walls of names of men and women who served our country in the many wars, you search for a family name you’ve heard your grandmother talk about, many looking for grandpa’s names. You run your hands over the walls gently as if you can feel everything they saw or heard. We did not smile or laugh, but rather pulled together and talked of “old war stories” that night as we gathered in the lobby of the Hampton Inn.
Finally, the US Capitol, our Whitehouse Tour, the home of our President and his family with 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms (a girl’s dream) and 5 full-time chefs ready to cook any time you’re hungry. George Washington began the idea of the home in 1792 and it was finished in the 1800’s, with each president elected being able to change and/or decorate to suit. Beautiful flowers surround you as you walk straight, tall, and feel so important as if you have been invited to sit with President Obama in the Oval office.
The ride home was also a first for me as we boarded the airplane from the Washington D.C. Airport, my knees trembled at the thought of my feet leaving the ground. Saying goodbye once we landed to all my new friends, most of whom I would not see again, was hard.
It is my hope and desire that I have left you with a picture of what this truly was for a small town girl from Huntsville, Arkansas, “The Trip of a Lifetime”.
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