Washington, D.C. is the capital of our country. Everywhere you go, there are incredible memorials, amazing museums, and historic buildings. I saw all of these and more when I explored Washington, D.C. with 41 of my fellow eighth graders.
On our first day, we dragged ourselves to Pinewood at 2:45 a.m., somehow as enthusiastic and loud as ever. Anyone who was sleepy got swept into the tidal wave of excitement and woken up. After two plane rides and hours on a bus, we arrived at our hotel. Shivering in the cold Virginia air, we stumbled into our rooms, wondering what the next day would bring.
On our second day, the first stop was to see glassblowing on Jamestown Island. We all huddled near the fiery furnace to stay warm while we watched a woman make blue glass jars. After walking through Jamestown, we went to colonial Williamsburg. We strolled down Duke of Gloucester Street, stopping to see reenactors as blacksmiths and wigmakers. We took a tour of Governor’s Palace, and raced through a hedge maze. At the end of the night, we took a spooky ghost tour, where our guide took us through Williamsburg, all while telling us ghost stories and showing us haunted cemeteries and houses.
The next day, we saw Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson. It had gorgeous views, gold leaves, a beautiful estate, and impressive gardens.
We also saw the grave of Thomas Jefferson, an obelisk engraved with what he considered his three greatest achievements – writing the Declaration of Independence, founding the University of Virginia, and writing the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom. Next, we visited the Holocaust Museum, with powerful and informative exhibits. After a picture stop at the White House, we explored the World War II Memorial, with its breathtaking fountains and pillars for each state that fought in the war, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, where the names of tens of thousands of veterans are carved into its black stone walls. We saw the Korean War Memorial, with statues of brave soldiers posing in green grass. Our last stop was the Lincoln Memorial, where we saw the colossal statue of Abraham Lincoln, looking down at us from his chair.
On our fourth day, we took a tour of the Capitol – my favorite part was the rotunda – and spent some time in the Senate Gallery, where we could look down at the Senate. After a picture stop at the Supreme Court, we visited the Library of Congress, which had beautiful handpainted ceilings and stained glass windows, and a myriad of books. We stopped at the Newseum, where I loved watching a 4D video on the history of journalism. We saw the Pentagon Memorial, with benches to honor each person who died on 9/11 in the Pentagon. We explored the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, which is made up of stone walls covered with quotes, statues, and small waterfalls. Late that night, we saw the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, which had an impressive bronze statue of Jefferson.
On our fifth day, our first stop was Mount Vernon, George Washington’s house, which was historic and had an amazing view of the Potomac River. We visited the National Archives, where we saw the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. At the International Spy Museum, we crawled through air ducts and took over the gift shop. We went to Arlington Cemetery, where we saw the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the changing of the guards. One of my favorite things we did on the trip was the dinner theater. We went to Toby’s Dinner Theatre in Columbia and dined while we watched a musical called “Sister Act.” It tells the story of Doloris, who, after seeing her boyfriend commit murder, hides in a convent to protect herself.
On our last day in Washington, D.C., the first thing we did was visit Ford’s Theater, where Abraham Lincoln was shot, and the Peterson House, where he later died. Later we went to several different national museums. At the Museum of Natural History, I enjoyed seeing the live butterflies, followed by the exhibits at the Museum of American History. It was amazing to see the aircrafts at the National Museum of Air and Space, and there was an astonishing view from the top floor of the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.
I enjoyed our Washington, D.C. trip so much – it truly was the trip of a lifetime, and one I will never forget.
Wish you were there,