This Is My Country - My Family Travels
HPIM2897
HPIM2897

Semi Finalist 2009 FTF Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
From the moment I glimpsed the obelisk of the Washington Monument towering into the summer sky, I couldn’t help but think, Wow! I’m here! I’m at the capital of the greatest nation in the world: Washington, D.

From the moment I glimpsed the obelisk of the Washington Monument towering into the summer sky, I couldn’t help but think, Wow! I’m here! I’m at the capital of the greatest nation in the world: Washington, D.C.! This one thought—Wow!—kept recurring throughout the day as my mind took in the wonders and beauties of the capital of the United States of America.

I stepped forward in the cavernous rotunda in the National Archives, not daring to draw breath. Here I stood, mere feet away from the original copies of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Here were the actual documents written by the founding fathers that had shaped the nation. As my eyes moved over the faded, worn writing, I noted that John Hancock’s signature was as distinct as ever. I realized that even though the builders of this nation are gone, the nation that they built is still here, having weathered the storms of over two hundred years.

The fountains of the World War II Memorial gurgled and frothed as I entered the monument. I felt aglow in wonder and amazement at the grand structure that was dedicated to the brave soldiers who fought in a terrible and devastating war that encompassed all the nations of the earth. As I passed by the Freedom Wall, I was stunned by the sheer number of gold stars lining the stone surface. When I paused to reflect that each star (of which there were over four thousand in number) represented one hundred American soldiers who died in battle during the war, I marveled at the sacrifice given so that freedom could continue its glorious anthem.

Nothing was more inspiring than standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. From these hallowed steps, I gazed back across the National Mall at the Washington Monument and beyond to the Capitol and considered the things that had transpired on this very spot. Then I entered the monument and pondered the towering statue of the great man Abraham Lincoln, the president who kept the nation together in one of its darkest hours. I realized that here was a man who knew the value of his country. Here was a man who did what was right. A feeling of reverence swept through my soul as I studied the carven face of this giant among men.

My emotions were high as I sat in the Jefferson Memorial. The setting sun was afire in an orange radiance, the beams cutting straight through the monument and alighting upon the statue of Thomas Jefferson. I thought about what Jefferson had done for this country. He wrote the Declaration of Independence, the very document that I had seen with my own eyes mere hours before, and he made a purchase with France that began a century of Western expansion, culminating in a nation that truly stretched from sea to shining sea. My heart was full as I realized how truly blessed I am to have such a wonderful nation and marvelous forebears who paved the way so that I can truly enjoy the wonderful blessing of freedom.

So many wonderful things took place on my trip to the capital that I could hardly comprehend them all in one day. But I think the best things of all were the feelings I had when I was privileged to stand where heroes have stood, to see things patriots have seen, and to feel what fellow countrymen have felt. America, you truly shine from sea to shining sea!

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