One more post about Washington D.C. and I promise I’m done.
I’ve been here three times: once a Boy Scout in 1985(ish), once we drove out with our 6 and 4 year old daughters. We camped for a night outside of Gettysburg on the way out. That following morning, back when I had some semblance of fitness in my body, I ran four miles. It was slightly humid, with a shadow of fog around. I stopped, and just took everything in, that in these woods, troops probably moved towards an epic battle. Gave me shivers. The other time was a couple years later, and our girls first trip on an airplane. We took a regional place to Chicago, then to DC. We boarded that smaller plane, then had to disembark because of some kind of mechanical problem. When we get back on again, an older woman asked my daughters if this was their first time on a plane. My youngest, whom I just wrote about, said, “No, we got on the plane a little while ago, then had to get off. This is our second time!”
Anyway, I’ve seen many of the monument multiple times, been up in the Washington Monument, seen the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and Bill of Rights, seen the Lincoln Memorial. However, this time just seemed different. We had a tour of the Capitol, and while it wasn’t a great tour, one of the things the guide said: “This was a government for the people.”
Frank, the only tour guide we had on our trip (a whole different angry blog), was amazing with his knowledge of our monuments, but also with the inspiration for the students.
We first were went back to the WWII Memorial, talked about the lives lost, and the sacrifices made for our country made during that war. As our guide was talking, the Washington Monument in front of us and the Lincoln Memorial behind us were lit up in the most gorgeous sunset. Frank pointed out many of the different things at the World War II Memorials, many things we didn’t see at our performance that day.
Next, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, a stunning piece to be seen at night. The great thing about this, the quotes around this memorial. This was the one that had the most meaning for me:
The group we brought to Washington DC come from a high poverty area, an area without much hope for good jobs ever coming back, an area where the haves and have nots are very evident. However, I walked away from the memorial with hope because of this quote. We CAN give our students the best education, to help them see how wide open the world is for them when they can’t see it themselves. We can help them realize they don’t have to settle.
We walked to the FDR Memorial next. It was cold, I didn’t have a good flash, so I have no pictures from this place, but I walked away with the same feeling of hope. Here’s a man who was elected president four times, who guided our country through a dark time, and who was handicapped by polio.
And finally, we made our way to the Jefferson Memorial.
While we didn’t get as much information about Jefferson here as I’d hoped, this was the conclusion of our walking tour, and, having never been to this memorial, seeing it at night was pretty awesome.
As we boarded the bus, Frank, as he did all night, encouraged our students to find their way, to find the way they could help in their schools, their communities, and they needed to get out and vote in the next election. That was the one of the best parts of the trip, a man the students didn’t know, filling them with hope.
In the end, we got home tired, cranky (17 hours on a bus will do that), but hopeful for our future. Somedays, it’s all we have, but the way these students talked of the inspirations they found in DC, I do feel good about our future.