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Journal Writing Project - A trip to D.C.: no politics involved

Fri, Apr 22nd, 2011
Posted in Journal Student Writing Project

Looking back upon the past articles I've had published this year, I realized neither of them were personalized all too much. I wrote about topics that were important or relevant to the times, but I didn't exactly let you readers into the know about me personally. Hopefully, after I explain a trip I recently made out East with my fellow Fillmore Central seniors, I will remedy this shortcoming.

Leaving on a cold, rainy morning April 1 of this year did indeed seem like an April Fool's Day prank; however, once I got past the fact I needed to be cognitive at four o'clock in the morning and realized I would be, along with most of my fellow senior class, making a trip of a lifetime out to Washington D.C., the joke dissipated. Indeed, so much preparation and work had gone into making this trip possible, I couldn't help but be extremely excited as the bus began its journey eastward in the wee hours of the morning. I thought I had sufficiently prepared myself mentally for what we were set to see and do on the trip, but I soon realized my preconceived notions held no basis whatsoever as we neared Chicago.

The Twin Cities being the biggest metro area I had ever been in, the sheer massiveness of Chicago took me by awe. Further emphasizing that awe was experiencing looking out of story 103 of the Willis Tower. They were these mixed feelings of awe, trepidation, and curiosity that persisted with me the entire ten-day trip as our senior class took in the sights, sounds, and smells of not only D.C., but other historic areas as well. Unfortunately, I don't think it possible to describe in this short article all I saw and did on this trip. However, a couple of events have impressed themselves in my mind more than others. One of these places is Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Standing on and walking the hallowed ground that is the site of probably the most important Civil War battle fought was as ethereal an experience that I've ever had. Knowing roughly 150 years ago over 46,000 people were killed, injured, captured, or gone missing in only three days' time was effective in stupefying my mind. Despite the chill and strong winds that persisted, the aura of human death, yet national rebirth, was so great as to make me regard it little. Only a couple places succeeded in matching this atmosphere.

I can't fully explain why places and/or memorials of death seem to resonate more with people, including me. Perhaps it is because these places help us recognize the value of each life, our lives. It is this enormous appreciation for life I obtained when walking through the grounds of Arlington National Cemetery and the Holocaust Museum. Both places had a respectful calm in them that is probably unparalleled in many other places. Couple that with shock at both the number of identically aligned, white tombstones and the sobering reality of the Holocaust and, needless to say, I was emotionally worn out at the end of the day when we had been to both places. Of course, there were many other sights to see.

The range of people reading this article who have been out to Washington D.C. is between some and many; I really have no idea. For those of you who have been out to D.C. and witnessed firsthand the amazing Greco-Roman architecture that is present in so many government buildings, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. I have never been overseas to see the origins of these building styles, but I now hope to go sometime. Besides creating a feeling of impenetrability, buildings like the U.S. Capitol, Lincoln Memorial, Department of Justice, National Archives, etc. all have an aesthetic quality imbued in their columns, statues, and stone steps. Just walking down the street was an incredible adventure in and of itself.

Being able to experience all these new environments with my fellow seniors was definitely a great way of doing so. Their perspectives on the trip and what we were seeing really added a lot to the experience and made it more enjoyable . . . at least most of the time. Yes, by the end of the trip, the lack of sleep was really starting to take its toll, but by no means did it detract from the value of it. Educational and entertaining, my senior trip allowed me to expand my horizons, geographically and culturally. Now that I've been in our nation's capital city, I feel more connected to this nation of ours and trust me, it's great.

Anton Adamek is a student at Fillmore Central High School. He is one of 10 area students participating in the Journal Writing Project, now in its twelfth year.

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