Monday, May 3, 2010

Day 3: Arlington, Iwo Jima Memorial, Natl. Cathedral, Fords Theater

We kicked off Day 3 by setting out for Arlington National Cemetery. We got stuck in some serious traffic on the George Washington Pkwy (very scenic drive along the Potomac...beautiful) and missed the first changing of the guard. We got there in time to tour a bit and see the second changing of the guard. It was also at Arlington that Tour Guide Tim came into our lives (more on him later). Arlington was very moving. It was overwhelming to see all of those men and women who have given their lives for our country. I didn't realize that Arlington still oversees about 20 burials a day (according to Tour Guide Tim), and if that rate continues, it will only be an active cemetery for about 50 more years.

Tour Guide Tim nearly sprinted through the cemetery (much of it uphill) and I think he was disgusted with Bus 3. We didn't ever really get in a hurry for anything, ever :) Tour Guide Tim was incredibly knowledgeable about history but was a little lacking in "people skills". He spoke only in the future tense; for example, "John F. Kennedy will be assassinated and will be buried here at Arlington." Try it sometime; it's tougher than you think! He also provided our bus full of fifth graders with a few choice tidbits that couldn't be described as kid-friendly. Do you know how hookers came to be called hookers? Ask any of the kids on Bus 3; they do! Regardless, he provided us with numerous facts (and laughs) throughout the week...thanks for that, Tour Guide Tim!

Next we went to the Iwo Jima Memorial, which was a very cool, quick trip. Lunch was at the Ronald Reagan Building; there we had our first experience getting 100+ people through federal security. We had a few little hiccups, but no one was arrested and everyone got to eat...success! After lunch we toured the National Cathedral, which was breathtaking. The stained glass windows all have a story behind them; my favorites were the educator's window and the Apollo 11 window (it contains a real moon rock). We got to briefly visit the crypt where Helen Keller is buried. I was very proud of the kiddos for being respectful and quiet. We stopped to shop for a bit at a gift shop down the road, satisfying the insatiable need of fifth graders to spend all their money on cheap gift shop junk :)

Fords Theater was next on our agenda. The President's box is decorated just like it was the night Lincoln was shot. It was very cool to see the door to the box that John Wilkes Booth used and the stage where he landed afterwards. The thrill was gone for the man talking to us there; I think the kiddos might have been more into it if he had pepped himself up some.

Supper was at the Columbia Island Marina; alas, no fried chicken. I ran into some blood sugar issues and spent most of dinner trying desperately to get my sugars up while concentrating on not throwing up in front of the whole school. Thankfully there was a paramedic on my bus who wouldn't let me out of his sight for the rest of the trip (thanks, Brian!). I was so thankful to have him on the trip, even though he enjoyed pricking my finger a little too much :) We ended our evening at the Jefferson Memorial and with a quick drive around DC. Day 4 beckons!

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