Monday, May 02, 2005

Washington D.C.

I'm so lucky to get a free trip to Washington D.C.!!! Apparently my social studies teacher, Mr. Gunnell, nominated me to go to Washington D.C. with some law enforcement association. At first I though it was some kind of a scam (that was until the chief of police call my house and told us to go to some meeting in The Dells.) So we went to the meeting and got the normal orientation things. After a couple of weeks had passed, the day had come when I was to leave. I drove to the Madison AAA and boarded the bus. Enter: "The Trip."

As you may imagine, an 18 hour bus trip isn't a walk in the park. Hours upon hours of absolute boredom and awful, awful Adam Sandler movies. After the second showing of Happy Gilmore, the chaperones turned off the movie and yelled "lights out!" If you've ever tried to fall asleep on a bus, you can truly understand my agony. Bus sleep is different from regular sleep because you can only get in an hour or two of solid sleep before some bump of noise jarringly awakens you, then it takes you another half hour to fall back asleep. So you don't really get a good night's sleep. Anyway, after one and a half days of that nightmare, we finally arrived in D.C.

When we first entered D.C., we were all astonished by the elegance of the city. We saw every government building; from the USDA to The Department of the Interior to The State Department, we saw it all (or most of it, anyway.) Our first stop was The White House. Yes, that's right, The White House: the place that, since 9/11, has been OFF LIMITS to the general public (of course, we're special, so we got in.) In contrast, after The White House, we were promptly bussed over to the rather depressing Holocaust Museum. That place leaves you in a very bitter mood after you've been there; because seeing mass genocide and starvation isn't the most cheerful thing in the world... Then we went to Ford's Theatre, also rather gloomy. And from Lincoln's famed death, we went to Linclon's famed life, represented by the Lincoln Memorial. Then we went to the Vietnam and the Korean Memorials. By then it was mid-after noon, we ate lunch and moved on into Virginia to visit Mount Vernon. That place was cool. You have the Potomac river in the background, a historic mansion in the foreground, and a necessary for your dirty business ;) . The sprawling estate wore out even the younger kids, so you can imagine how excited we were to find out that we were going to yet another monument before we could go to our hotel: The FDR Memorial. Personally, I found this memorial to be one of my favorites. Although by then it was 9:00 PM and it was dark out. Those waterfalls were beautiful in the moonlight. The Jefferson Memorial was just near the FDR Memorial, and that may have been the most beautiful thing I'd seen the entire trip: The Jefferson Memorial just a couple hundred feet away with a pond shimmering in the city lights. Then we went to our hotel and everyone fell asleep without delay.

Day two entailed the same amount of discomfort as day one of the touring. We kicked off the day with a visit to the WWII memorial. The cool thing about that place was that they honored American Samoa. After doing all of our routine "touristy" things, we moved onto the bus and drove to Arlington National Cemetery and watched the changing of the guards, that too wasn't a very exultant place. We saw the portraits of the fallen display there as well. Then we walked resignedly to the bus, once more. We drove to our final D.C. stop, the Washington Monument. That was also cool, the elevator had windows that fogged and unfogged to show the stones in the monument. Then we bade farewell to the fair city known as Washington D.C. and headed to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The Civil War was very bloody, and yet somehow it still managed to be boring. I mean, the battle was cool, but the war just seems so... stale. But our guide certainly was very, very intense, so that made significantly more interesting. And so ended our trip to D.C., and I will sign of with a quote from the Gettysburg Adress:

"But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or to detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here."
- Abraham Lincoln
Gettysburg Address November 19, 1863


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