In school, I was not a history buff. I didn't see the point in learning history, and I felt that it was all just memorization. However, I still decided to take AP US History in the hopes that maybe it would change my mind. Well, I was certainly not prepared to become a history-loving student and sign up for AP Government the next year. I credit this newfound love for history to my recent trip to Washington, D.C, taken last May.
We drove for about 8 hours from Leland, North Carolina, ready for the experience of a lifetime. I had never been to Washington, so everything was new for me. We left on Thursday, after school ended, and reached our hotels at about ten o' clock that night. The next day, we got up early and headed to the National Museum of American History. My friends and I toured the museum for a few hours before listening to a speech about the Greensboro Four and their struggle for civil rights. There were so many incredible things to look at, including the Star-Spangled Banner, an entire section on the major wars in our country’s history, and even a replica of a fall-out shelter, meant to protect families from attack.
Later that evening we ventured out to visit the capitol’s memorials and monuments. We visited several different places, including the Lincoln, Vietnam War, World War II and Jefferson Memorials. The people, the places, and the atmosphere all gave me a sense of patriotism, while at the same time, helping me learn.
The last day of our trip, we headed to the Capitol Building. We took a short tour through the Rotunda, and several other rooms, ending our tour with the gift shop. A few of my friends and I waited outside the shop for our group to finish shopping, and decided to sit down because we were tired from all the walking we had done. As we leaned against the benches and rested our feet, a nicely-dressed woman walked over to us.
“Did you know that when you sit down inside the Capitol Building, you’re protesting?” She asked. “You probably shouldn’t be sitting.”
Our mouths dropped. We couldn’t believe what we were hearing.
“We’re protesting all the walking we’ve done on this trip.” One of my friends mentioned, trying to be funny. We did get a laugh from the informative woman, but we still had to stand up.
After our trip to the Capitol Building, we drove to Arlington Cemetery. The rows of tombstones cast a somber mood over our group and we quietly made our way to the Changing of the Guard Ceremony. After watching, I later discovered that the Tomb of the Unknown Solider represented all the unknown soldiers who had died in past wars. I was amazed at the simple, yet so powerful symbolism that was present in the ceremony and it really moved me.
On the ride home, I realized how much I enjoyed my trip to Washington. History was exciting and I knew that I would do my best to go back to D.C. , because there was still more to learn!
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