Eight MSJU students with our professors, Dr. Pete Robinson and Dr. Elizabeth Barkley, piled into a van on March 11 and took a sight-seeing-filled trip to Washington, D.C., for a class called Museums, Monuments, and Meaning. This class is all about learning and reflecting on the significance of our nation’s capital and the history that it overflows with. Each day of the six day trip, we kept a journal where we answered and gave our opinions about our first impressions of the city, the things we saw, and our overall experiences of not only being immersed in so much history and learning, but of making new friends and memories.
After driving for almost the whole day on Saturday, we woke up on Sunday ready to begin to explore D.C. I had never been to the capital before and was eager to see everything that I could, including riding the subway for the first time, which was very fun but also confusing to know where to go. The first thing we did was go to the National Museum of American History, where we were taken back in time to see some pretty amazing things, like artifacts from wars and the enormous original Star Spangled Banner. After a great lunch we were lucky enough to be able to get tickets for the new National Museum of African American History and Culture. This was one of the most outstanding places we got to see because of how much history was packed in, starting with slavery at the bottom level and working up to modern times at the top level. It was moving to see things like Harriet Tubman’s shawl and Nat Turner’s bible, to a lunch counter seat from the Civil Rights sit in’s.
The next day, we took a tour of the U.S. Capitol that took us from Representative Steve Chabot’s office to historical court rooms and the inside of the Capitol dome which was a stunning site to see. We also took a tour of the National Cathedral, an interesting place filled with beautiful stained glass windows, one in particular depicting the galaxy and planets. Despite the blustering winds and cold weather on Tuesday, we walked through Arlington Cemetery to see some amazing landmarks like the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the JFK grave site, and towering Iwo Jima memorial. After a lot of walking through the tremendous cemetery and stopping at a food vendor on the street for some hot dogs for lunch, we went to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, which was an emotionally moving place filled with tales of survival, suffering, and loss, and also of rescue and hope for a better world. For me, this was the most deeply moving place we visited because of how many personal accounts and items that survived the concentration camps that were on display, and then seeing the many pictures of the victims and names of the victims on the walls.
On the last day of our adventures through D.C., we took a tour through the Library of Congress and got to see the personal library of Thomas Jefferson, then split into groups to see something on our own. My group walked to the Portrait Gallery, were we saw the new unique and colorful portraits of the Obamas along with the portraits of past presidents which was really cool to see. Finally, although it was cold and windy, we walked to the various memorials of Lincoln, MLK, FDR, and the Korean, WWII, and Vietnam War memorials. Overall, this trip to the capital was great and I have so many fun memories that I’ll have forever, from enduring the cold together and seeing the White House for the first time, to Dr. Robinson hilariously missing our subway stop. We got to see so many amazing things, and I am eager to go back to see all that we missed.