When I walked into my AP U.S. History class the first day of school, I never would have believed that I would have found some use for the knowledge learned in the class. It was May, when we decided to do a college “road trip” back east and visit three different schools in the Washington D.C. area. A place where U.S. history all but began, and where so much of that history still lives today.
I’ve always been someone who enjoys history, and there is no better place to be than at our Nation’s Capital. The first night we arrived we went to all the major Presidential Memorials. It’s a place where so much learning can be had, simply from the statues and the engravings that surround them. From George Washington’s, Jefferson’s, FDR’s, to my personal favorite, Abraham Lincoln’s, where the Gettysburg Address and the Emancipation Proclamation are engraved in the building surrounding the huge statue. It’s humbling to read the addresses, because they were said during one our darkest hours as a nation, and they brought hope to so many different people at a time when a nation needed it most.
The next couple days were spent in museums at The Mall, its where almost every Smithsonian or museum is housed, from the Air and Space, Natural History, American History, to the art museums, and see thousands of different pieces dating back hundreds of years. One of the coolest for me was seeing the first American Flag, right there in front of me. It was kind of a surreal moment in time.
A museum that is located just off the Mall was one of the most sobering experiences I had. The Holocaust Museum opened my eyes on a completely different level of one of the most horrible times in history. It’s one thing to read and learn about the Holocaust, it’s another to see the artifacts and hear the stories of the people that went through it. While there are many different things that I could talk about the thing that made the strongest impression on me was the shoes of all the people that went into the camps. It’s a place that words cannot describe and people just have to visit.
The Newseum was my favorite stop of the trip. It’s a place that goes through the history of the news. Three things really stand out to me about this museum. The first were the newspapers from every year since people first began settling here. I was reading about the Civil and Revolutionary Wars from a paper that was produced when it actually happened. The second was the 9/11 display, they had footage and an antenna that was on the north building from the day. Along with these displays they had newspapers and magazine covers from 9/11 up and down one large wall. It was a time to reflect on the day that we experienced in history. They also had some small sections from the Inauguration and Election Day from the previous year, with amazing photos from when President Obama was elected and put in office. It reminded me that I was in a city, in a time, where history was being made, where so many things were changing around me. It reminded me that me and my generation, we are the future. We are the ones making history, and experiencing it every day. One day it will be what we did that will be displayed in Washington D.C. for students and people to learn about.
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