This morning we woke up at 6:00 a.m. and went down to the lobby for breakfast. We had a delicious breakfast of made-to-order omelets, pancakes, and bacon. It was great! Then we headed out to start our busy day. It was 36 degrees this morning, but it was very bright and sunny — in the afternoon it felt like Florida was last week!
Our first stop was the White House. It was magnificent. The Presidential structure was 55,000 square feet. There were many vibrant rooms including the Vermeil Room, China Room, State Dining Room, the Green Room where the walls are covered in green silk, and many other colorful rooms. There were also many pretty flowers decorating the tables in both the State Dining Room and the Family Dining Room. The Family Dining Room is normally not open to the public but today it was! We learned that George Washington did not live in the White House and John Adams did not start his presidency in the White House, but he was the first president to live there. We also discussed that there were eight presidents that died while in office, either by assassination or otherwise. They were William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley, Warren G. Harding, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and finally John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
Then we went to the Bureau of Printing and Engraving. There we watched a video of exactly how they made money. Did you know that they still print two dollar bills? We were told that they only make two dollar bills about every 4 years or so because there is not much demand for them. Currently the highest denomination printed is the $100 dollar bill. They stopped making $500, $1,000, $5,000, and $10,000 dollar bills in 1969.
After the Bureau of Printing and Engraving we went to lunch at the Ronald Reagan Food Court. There were many choices of restaurants and we all got to pick our favorite! My friend Bobby and I went to Subway and each got a foot-long sandwich and a drink and sat down for a well-earned meal and a well-deserved rest. We had to be back on the bus by 1:00 pm, so we hurriedly ate a quick dessert of gelato and skedaddled out of the food court. When we got outside, it was warmer than that morning. We got on the bus and drove to the WWII Memorial.
When we got to the memorial we were told to walk around and be respectful to the monument because it was the war with one of the most casualties in history. There are 56 pillars at the memorial representing the 50 states and territories of the US at that time. I took a picture of the pillar that said “Florida”. There was a wall that had 4,048 stars. Each star represents 1000 deaths of Americans that risked their lives for us to gain freedom.
After the memorial, we went to the Caisson Stables near Arlington National Cemetery. The horses there are used to pull caissons which carried the casket of military officers and Presidents. There are several breeds of horses there including Percheron and Quarter horses. We had fun petting the horses and feeding them hay. They were friendly and tried to eat my scarf!
Then after the stable we toured the Arlington National Cemetery. This land used to be owned by George Washington Parke Custis who was George Washington’s step-grandson. The original house, known as the “Arlington House”, still stands as a memorial to Robert E. Lee. The house sits high upon a hill overlooking the cemetery, the Potomac River, and a wide expanse of the city. The original plantation property used to be 5100 acres, but the cemetery now occupies 624 acres. George Washington Parke Custis’s daughter married Robert E. Lee, and made their home there. As you probably know, Robert E. Lee was the commander of the Confederate Army. After the war, as part of his punishment, the Union took his land and buried people from the war there. Eventually it became a cemetery. Now there are around 400,000 people buried there. Pierre L’Enfant, the architect that designed D.C., is buried at the top near the house. Most of the gravestones are made from white marble.
One very important part of our tour of Arlington was the changing of the guard and wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This monument honors all the unknown servicemen who died in service to our country. It is “guarded” 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, no matter the weather. The school presented a special wreath to be laid at the tomb, and four Park Maitland students took part in the ceremony. It was a very serious matter, and we all had to be very quiet.
By now it was getting dark, and we were getting hungry! But we had one more stop before dinner which was the Iwo Jima memorial. This memorial was made to honor the men and women who have served in the Marines. It was very large and when you drove the bus around the circle it looked as if they were raising the flagpole higher and higher.
Finally it was time for dinner at a restaurant named Clyde’s! The food was very, very, very good. I liked the Ceasar salad and the chicken the most. There were many people outside the restaurant waiting for the Washington DC Capitals’ Hockey game. The Washington Capitals were playing against the Florida Panthers (Go Panthers!). Given the looks of the crowd, we thought it best to keep quiet about the Panthers, though.
After dinner, we went to the Jefferson Memorial. The statute is 19 feet tall and is made out of cast bronze. Jefferson loved architecture. He designed the University of Virginia. He enjoyed domes and ionic columns, all of which can be seen at his memorial.
Last, but not least, we went to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. It is facing the Jefferson Memorial, overlooking a frozen pond. There is a marble statue of Martin Luther King, known as the “Hope Rock”. There is also a long wall on each side of the statute that has quotes from speeches given by Dr. King.
Today was a great day; we had sunny skies and covered a lot of territory. We walked over nine miles! I can’t wait to see what tomorrow will bring!
6th Grade Student