Reflections On My Washington DC Trip

by David Kellin, editor@pantagraph.online

This past week I went to Washington DC with my youngest daughter and her classmates from Havelock Middle School. This was my first trip with a school group. I had went to the Air and Space Museum in 1992 to see the Star Trek Exhibit. That was the year I graduated from Graduate School. Some 27 years have past since I have been in Washington.

Each of the HMS student was required to write a paragraph each day to explore the things they experience that day. It seems fitting that I should write about my experiences.

As a chaperone and a parent, it was initially a little daunting to think of taking two tour buses full of kids into our Nation’s Capital. The first day, I was the hawk watching over my charges. I scanned all around them looking for anything that could impact them. In the Air and Space Museum, my inner geek surfaced as I shared tidbits of knowledge. I quickly let that go and tried to let my group learn as they explored.

There were parts of the trip that meant quite a bit to me. In the Capital Rotunda, I was standing feet away from where many people have laid in state. I could not help but remember Senator John McCain and President Bush had been there recently.

I was impressed to learn that a farmer’s market was kept in the older chamber of Congress after it was outgrown by the expanding Congress. The shear number of people touring the Capital was unbelievable. The tours were organized to the minute.

The Holocaust Museum was a powerful place to see. More than just pictures and explanatory signs, the objects stood out. The doors to the furnaces of the crematorium, the shoes, and the rail car just stopped me. I kept thinking back to the movie “Paperclip” as I walked through the car.

One particular moment stands out for me. One of my group was obviously moved when we came to the rows of candles lit in remembrance. I watched as she tried to find a candle to light. It seemed personal as she went from one unlit candle to the next looking for one to light. For someone so young to have that need to remember was touching.

I think the one outstanding moment of the trip was seeing the eternal flame on President John F. Kennedy’s grave. I have always had an affinity for JFK as I was born almost two years before he was killed. It was like visiting a grave of someone you knew. It seemed to me that everyone was considered worthwhile to him. It is a value I hope to emulate.

A group of students from another school were able to have a wreath laid on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and Taps was played. The mournful notes echoing across the final resting place of so many brothers in arms will haunt me for a while.

I am hopeful that the students gained some history and insight into our nation. Some of the deeper meanings will come with age, I suppose. They may never fully grasp what those monuments and exhibits meant to the adults watching over them. I am sure I could not explain it fully to them.

Years from now, they may go back as parents or chaperones for their children’s trips. Their experiences are bound to be deeper then.

Thank You to Little Bit for wanting me to come with her, and Thanks to Havelock Middle for allowing me to come along.



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