A select group from my eighth grade class poured into the busy Ronald Reagan National Airport, in Washington DC. The purpose of our group was to see as much of DC as we could in two and a half days. Our bus driver was an experienced tour guide of thirty-five years with the company World Strides. His name was Vinny, and he was full of life and knowledge of DC. Starting out, we headed to the National Cathedral. Massive stained glass and solemn moments started our adventure. Next, we headed to Arlington National Cemetery. Rows and rows of white domino looking headstones laid before me not yet fallen as the lives of the soldiers they humbly marked. The ceremony for the unknown soldier was precise making the unknown known. The whirlwind continued with the Roosevelt monument and the Jefferson monument. Standing in the dome with President Jefferson, I could see the White House through the trees. With night came the WWII monument. Vinny said the lights were phenomenal, which of course was an understatement. To finish the day's adventure we went to the Iwo Jima memorial. As we walked around it, it looked like the statue soldiers were pushing the flag up. Flopping on my hotel bed at eleven pm, I was exhausted.
The alarm clock the next morning went off too early. It was a drizzly morning, but we headed to the Capitol building. Group picture time. With not a moment to waste, we rushed to the Washington Monument as we were scheduled ride the elevator to the top. The view was incredible; you could see all of the major monuments and museums. Flying to our next destination we headed to the Air and Space Museum, then the Museum of American History, and finally the Museum of Natural History. Seeing our country's flag from the War of 1812, Sputnik, and massive fossils made me think about all our country has gone through. Wanting to see living history, we went to the White House, however due to lengthy safety measures, all we could do is stare through the black, metal gate. No sign of the president anywhere. Speaking of presidents, from there we went to the Ford Theatre. As I sat in the seats of the restored theatre, listening to a reenactment of Lincoln's assassination, I felt the sorrow of that time. On a brighter note, we went to the Library of Congress. Not your average library! There were countless books, an observation deck for the reading room and unfortunately, no time to read. One of the newest museums, the National Holocaust Museum, was our next stop. Going through Daniel's story, I felt the pain of millions. With the evening came the Vietnam Memorial Wall and Korean Memorial . Overwhelmed by the volume of names and the impending darkness made it an ominous visit. Ending the night, we went to the Lincoln Memorial. The size of Lincoln, and seeing the stone where Martin Luther King stood for his "I Have a Dream" speech brought the day to a fitting close.
Waking up on our final day, I couldn't believe we would be leaving Washington by late afternoon. Our last stop in our nation's capitol was Mount Vernon, home of George Washington. It was amazing what George Washington accomplished in his lifetime. Standing there, overlooking the Potomac River, all the history I had taken in during the last few days made me realize what it took to get to where we are today. My view of our great country has been forever changed. What a history rush!
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