My grandfather always wished for his children to have a ready heart for any task and the cleverness to perform it. His militaristic upbringing and lifestyle established his belief that one should constantly carry a weapon of readiness. After he passed away, he left our family a stash of pocket knives to keep with us in order to carry out his wishes. I made a personal oath to hold onto this heirloom as long as I possibly could.
This oath was severely tested on my class trip to Washington D.C. in September 2008. Like any school-oriented trip, certain guidelines of prohibited items existed to uphold the policies of our destinations. Many years had passed since my grandfather left us his set of pocket knives, and I had carried my selected knife with me ever since. The smooth, tanned knife occupied a mere three inches in my purse, and often times, I forgot its placement. Accordingly, the knife accompanied me to the capital of the United States.
Our junior class initiated our first day in Washington D.C. with the visitation of the Washington Monument. Adrenaline circulated in our bodies as we approached the towering reminder of our nation’s prosperity, repeatedly snapping photographs as we proceeded to the entrance. The guard on duty informed our class of the regulations of the Washington Monument. I listened as he monotonously described the, what I thought to be, obvious rules. “No liquids, no gum, no weaponry… this includes guns, knives…” Knives! An alarm wave pulsed through my brain, and my eyes widened with realization! I quickly stepped towards the back of the group. I turned slightly away to hide my hands as I pulled out the small knife and walked away from the group a few feet. Just like my grandfather had wished, I approached this task with cleverness and effortlessly hid my knife under a nearby trashcan.
Leaving the Washington Monument, I retrieved my “weapon,” and our class advanced to the Holocaust Museum. I laughed about the incident on our way to the next destination until I turned the corner to the museum. Metal detectors! Once again forced to hide my knife before the authorities discovered it, I glanced around the entrance, realizing the complete lack of trash cans. In fact, nothing could conceal my knife. After surveying the area, my desperate eyes encountered a crooked tile on the outer wall of the museum. Grasping onto the heirloom, I confidently marched over to the tile and knocked it with my foot, discovering its looseness. Before anyone had the chance to observe this resourceful act, I set the knife behind the wobbly tile. After the visitation and knife retrieval, our junior class journeyed to the National Archives.
Walking inside the Archives and observing the informational displays, we continued down long hallways and slipped through standing crowds. At the end of this walk, I realized my fault. I had forgotten to rid myself of this sharp nuisance! In front of us, three metal detectors with three guards awaited my prosecution. Panic rushed through my veins as I urgently searched for an answer to my dilemma. Looking forward, the solution came to me. The guards were not requiring visitors to remove their belts; they simply made a mental note if the visitor wore a belt and waved their mini-detector over the visitor’s waist. Taking advantage of the moment, I placed the knife in the front of my pants behind my belt buckle and walked through the detector. A sense of relief tingled over my skin as I joined my group of classmates.
On my class trip, I realized readiness and cleverness are a “package deal.” Needless to say, the precious pocketknife stayed in the hotel room for the remainder of the visit to the capital; though my grandfather’s wish did come true. Washington D.C. presented my “ready heart” with a fierce challenge and tested my cleverness.
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