We pulled up at Lambert International Airport and the Skycaps literally freaked out. Just as Mike and Lonnie said they would. We unloaded our luggage from the buses. It's amazing at just how many black and red bags we have. Which one is mine? I (Samantha) used a small silver suitcase so I could easily identify it at the baggage claim. Now it's time to get in line...
Mike gave us our tickets and we got in line for our security screening. A couple of our Youth Tour delegates had to go through the machine several times before the TSA agents pulled them out of line and searched them. I'm (Krista) glad I checked everything! After an hour we made it through security and went to our gate. I met some more delegates as we talked and played cards.
We flew on Southwest Airlines, and the flight was amazing. The flight attendant cracked jokes and sang her welcomes and safety instructions to the tune of the Beverly Hillbillies song. She enlisted three of our delegates to pass out snacks and really made a big deal about the 99 Missouri Youth Tour participants (that’s 88 delegates and 11 chaperones) on the plane.
Like I said, I (Melora) was nervous about flying on an airplane. But with so many fun games, there’s nothing to be afraid of. Why didn’t anyone tell me flying was like this? Wait... We are not in the air yet?
Our plane landed about 3:45 p.m. in Baltimore. Yeah, that bothered me a bit, too. I thought we were going to Washington, D.C. It turns out that our final destination was only a 45-minute bus ride away. We loaded up in two deluxe tour buses and made our way to our hotel. As we arrived, we could see the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol rising above the city skyline. It was awesome!
There are about 1,000 other delegates from states all across America at our hotel. From the moment we got off the bus and entered the hotel lobby we met delegates from several states like Florida, Georgia, North Dakota, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas! We didn't even have time to set our bags down when everybody started introducing themselves and which state they represent. The cool thing about this is each state has a special Youth Tour pin that you can trade or collect! We have several Missouri Youth Tour pins this year which should make for some interesting pin trading. Very clever! This is going to be fun!
After checking into the Hyatt Regency at Crystal City we dropped off our bags and left the hotel for our first adventure in Washington, D.C. First stop was the Old Post Office Pavilion for some dinner! The building was constructed in 1899 and was the first government building to have it’s own power plant. The building is full of trendy stores and a serious food court. They have everything you could want to eat and we were hungry! After finishing off a rather tasty meal we went to the top of the Old Post Office Clock Tower to get a magnificent view of Washington, D.C. A very friendly National Park Service Ranger told us the tower is 315 feet tall. What a view of the US. Capitol Building! Wow!
Back on the bus… The odd bus rules in case you were wanting to know! We left the Old Post Office Pavilion and drove across town to visit the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial.
Located on the famous Cherry Tree walk that borders the famous Tidal Basin, the memorial took us through a series of four sections, each representing one of FDR’s terms in office. With plenty of statues and cascading waterfalls, the site was perfect for photos.
It is amazing to see these great tributes to such great leaders for our country. It's hard to believe what challenges each of these great leaders had to face during his time as President of the United States of America.
Walking through the FDR Memorial and reading about the issues he faced made each of us look at ourselves and what we deal with each day back in Missouri. We just found the electric lineman Lonnie was talking about.
There are so many things to see... Glad I am with my friends!
We also visited Washington, D.C.’s newest memorial, The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial. We are the first Youth Tour to view this beautiful memorial. It features a large granite relief of Dr. King standing tall, about 30 feet tall, and looking out over the Tidal Basin towards the Jefferson Memorial.
They call this statue the “Stone of Hope” from Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech we studied and watched in school. It stands past two giant reliefs that look like mountains. We were told by a National Park Ranger that these represent the “Mountain of Despair” from that same line in Dr. King’s speech.
On one side of the "Stone of Hope" is the inscription "Out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope." The other side includes the inscription "I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness." This was suggested by Dr. King himself when he described how he would like to be remembered according to the National Park Ranger. They are so nice and helpful!
Surrounding the memorial was a large granite wall that includes fourteen of Dr. King's most notable quotes. The quotes are not placed in any particular order allowing visitors to read from any point. One interesting fact about the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial is the lack of any quotes from his "I Have a Dream" speech which was given on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963.
After walking around the Tidal Basin it was time to load up the buses and head back to our next stop, the Iwo Jima War Memorial. It is massive! The sculpture is based on the photograph of the United States Marine Corps raising the American flag on Iwo Jima during World War II.
It features a granite base which is huge! It has the phrase "In honor and in memory of the men of the United States Marine Corps who have given their lives to their country since November 10, 1775" engraved on one side and "Uncommon Valor Was a Common Virtue" on the other.
The memorial features six soldiers cast in bronze about 30 feet tall raising a flagpole that is over 60 feet tall. I (Michael) can't imagine what it must have been like for these brave Americans fighting for our freedom at this time in this place.
Mike said it was time to go, so we loaded up the buses and headed back to the Hyatt Regency. We could go all night, but our feet and chaperones were begging for mercy! Only five more days to go… Feet don’t fail me now!