In the summer of 2010, I had the opportunity to visit Washington, D.C. with a group from my school. After working hard all school year to raise enough funds, fifteen students from Aletheia Christian Academy set off for our nation’s capitol. There, we joined up with an organization called Student Leadership University (SLU). The leader of the organization, Jay Strack, spoke first, welcoming us to SLU 201 and congratulated us on already participating in SLU 101 the summer before. Brent Crowe also spoke that afternoon, telling us the SLU motto, “Leadership Begins at the Feet of Jesus.” After this short introduction they gave us the rest of the night to eat dinner and mingle with the hundreds of other students that were also attending. I made many new friends and even caught up with some others that I had met the summer prior! Little did I know, though, that this trip was going to have a significant impact on my life.
The next few days were spent touring the monuments and museums in Washington, D.C. The focus of the trip was to help students realize that America has detached from the foundation it was built upon. On almost every monument, there was at least one reference to God or Scripture engraved into it. We got to see first hand what our Founding Fathers wanted America to be, and how far away from that we are now.
There were two exceptionally memorable sights for me on this trip. The first was the Lincoln Memorial. When we arrived it was already dark, but there were still a lot of people crowding in to get pictures of this magnificent memorial. Our group was exhausted after the long day and we were dragging our tired feet up the steps. When we arrived at the top though, you could see everyone’s faces light up. I had never imagined how large the statue of Lincoln actually was. He was huge! And then as we read the engravings on the walls, you could see how faithfully our country, our leaders, used to believe in God and how everything we know today – our freedom, equal rights, etc. – was founded on the Bible. It was an eye opening experience.
The second memorable event on this trip for me was the Holocaust Museum. As we walked in, we were given cards that had a person’s name on it of someone who actually experienced the Holocaust. Some of the people never made it out alive, and others survived to tell their tales. We walked silently through the museum, looking at all of the pictures and artifacts that had been uncovered after this dreadful piece of history ended. There was one part that held everyone’s attention. As we rounded a corner into another room, to one side there was a large pile of dirty shoes of all sizes and on the other was a pile of human hair. You could feel the somberness in the air as we all stopped and stared. This was only some of the hair and shoes of the men, women, and children who died in the concentration camps. There were also cases of teeth with gold fillings, eye glasses, wedding rings, and false appendages. There were videos you could view of more gruesome things that were hidden behind walls, so that you couldn’t accidentally come across them. I held my breath as I watched one. Many of us were crying by the time we reached the end, but all of us came home from that trip as changed young men and women.
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