I don’t even really know how to condense into a blog post an entire five days of sightseeing with a bus load of middle schoolers in our nation’s capital. Though I’ve done this trip twice before – once as an 8th grader myself and the other as Program Leader – each trip is new and exciting in its own way. I still learn, still reflect, still bask in the wonder of new adventures with my husband, teacher friends, and students. So for this particular blog, I’ve chosen one picture from each site we visited (pretty hard to do!). That will at least give you some of the flavor of our experiences.
Iwo Jima Memorial
My thoughts are so disjointed and everywhere right now. Each time I visit Washington D.C. and Philadelphia, I am still overcome with fascination over our nation’s risky, treasonous, bloody, and inspiring history. What must it have been like to be one of those men signing a Declaration of Independence from the only other country and life they had known? What were they thinking as they attempted to unite these states under a new kind of government? How many sleepless nights did they have as they contemplated the risks – of war, of insecurity, of FAILURE? What if the Constitution didn’t hold water? What if President Washington didn’t really give up his power after two terms? What if the transfer of power to the next president went really badly?
Holocaust Museum – Hall of Remembrance
I think that now we look back at history and see it for what it is – the 20/20 vision of Hindsight. But when you start to play with the what-ifs that MUST have run through the minds of our founding fathers (the same way we do now about our future)… well, it becomes so real. I’m so thankful for each and every man and woman who have played a role in the sticky history that belongs to each American. No country’s history is totally clean – the risks had to be taken, the wars for justice in our country and in our world had to be fought, the mistakes had to be made… I guess you just hope that the future is always brighter, always better.
I saw a lot of tragedy memorialized this week. But even still I can see the trickle of hope and liberty and freedom flowing right through the pages of history… HOPE is brilliantly bright in the victories and yet quietly sustaining in the failures. It’s there in the faces of the men and women who died for a greater purpose… who believed in the United States of America. We CANNOT become unreflective about how far we’ve come. We CANNOT forget those qualities that should still unite us. We CANNOT shame those who have gone before us… They deserve our remembrance and our respect.
Changing of the Guard Ceremony – Tomb of the Unknown Solider
Ford’s Theater – Museum
Abraham Lincoln Memorial
The Building Museum – “You’ve Just Been Hugged By Springtown Middle School”
Smithsonian – American History Museum
Old City Hall
Ben Franklin Institute
Union Station Bell – Underneath
Mt Vernon Museum – Display Under Renovation
Mount Vernon – George Washington’s Porch
Thomas Jefferson Memorial
White House Correspondents – “We Got News For You”
Museum of Art
Ben Franklin’s Gravesite
Smithsonian – Natural History Museum
Smithosonian – Air & Space Museum
Art Museum – Philadelphia – aka. Rocky Balboa Steps