On the morning of April 11, the eighth grade students of Providence Christian School of Texas woke up before the rooster had even crowed and boarded a plane on its way to the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. After arriving in the District of Columbia, the students found the cherry blossoms, a gift from Japan, in full bloom and had the opportunity to visit a Smithsonian museum of their choice, including the National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of American History, or the National Museum of Natural History. To end the day, the grade went to the famous Ford’s Theatre, where Lincoln was assassinated, to witness a Civil War-themed musical by the name of Freedom’s Song. With a small ensemble of actors, the performance focused on the lifestyle of Americans during the Civil War and how the war affected them. Generally, the theater is maintained in spotless condition with many items from Lincoln’s assassination on display within the lobby of the historic site. As well as accommodating audiences and historical lore, the theater also houses multiple sculptures of the man who led the country through the Civil War.
The next morning, the students visited the well-known battlefield of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania and recounted the course of the battle. While they were at the site, they beheld Paul Philippoteaux’s famous cyclorama, a panoramic painting, at which the entire course of the battle was explained. Afterwards with the assistance of a guide, they toured the actual battlefield and the memorials dedicated by the states to the soldiers and inspected the museum at the location. The museum housed many relics including two bullets that had been fused together through the heat of the battle when they collided in midair. After dinner, the group explored the Lincoln, Korean War, Vietnam War, and World War II memorials, which honored the soldiers who died in the wars.
The following day, the group convened at the Arlington Cemetery and more specifically, dedicated a wreath to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Over the course of the next three days, they saw the Martin Luther King, FDR, Pentagon, and Marine Corps Memorials; met with their local representative, Congressman Pete Sessions; toured the Capitol; witnessed a debate in the House of Representatives; explored the Newseum; and drove out to Mount Vernon, the home of the first president, George Washington.
On the sixth day of the trip, Class Eight traveled to Charlottesville, Virginia, where they were met by Providence alumna Margaret Merrick, who attends Jefferson’s University of Virginia. Afterwards, the students toured Jefferson’s home, Monticello. Designed by Jefferson, Monticello contains many commodities, including a dumb waiter that he designed himself. Jefferson also assembled beautiful gardens around his estate. At his home, the beautiful tulips and other flowers in bloom quickly caused many students’ affections to sway towards Monticello over Mount Vernon, despite the ravishing Potomac River beside his estate.
Before touring the first settlement in America, their bus driver, Keith Smith, showed them his family’s farm, the only dairy farm left in the area. The group then left to spend more time in the town center of Colonial Williamsburg. During the time ambling up and down the streets of the Revolutionary town, various students witnessed such trades as wig making, shoemaking, printing, silver smithing, and sewing. Departing from the town and their beloved bus driver, the students boarded a plane at Richmond and began their flight home. Finally, around 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 17, the students arrived in their home state and parted ways until the following Monday at school. The sites, monuments, and people that the group met over the course of the trip will hopefully serve as a testament to the greatness of the nation. With the trip behind the students, the knowledge and memories acquired over the trip will stick with them for many years to come.
Michelle Raybourn is a Class Eight student graduating from Providence Christian School in May.