Saturday morning. The Missouri Youth Tour chaperones woke us up bright and early. Too early! 6:30 a.m. to be exact. Should have gone to bed when they told us last night. Eat breakfast with my new friends Rachel Walden from Intercounty Electric Cooperative in Licking and Ashley Hopper from Webster Electric Cooperative in Marshfield. In fact, every meal on this trip is provided or paid for (yes, Mike, by Cuivre River Electric Cooperative). Meal number two and counting…
After breakfast we learned the importance of electric cooperatives in our communities and how they are different from other utilities. Then we were given a team challenge. Each team received a bag of materials which contained a small box, paper clips, pencils, markers, string, scissors, tape and Play-Doh. Yes, Play-Doh! I (Marissa) have not used this material in years and forgot how fun it was! We had 15 minutes to develop a presentation using the items in the bag to demonstrate how electricity is produced and delivered to a kindergarten class’s home, school and local businesses. Our group was awesome!
Time to pack our suitcases. Zippp! Counted off. 1... 2... 3... 91! All present and accounted for. We got into our odd and even groups and loaded our bags into two buses and drove to the St. Louis airport. Before we got there, the chaperones asked how many of us had flown before. I was surprised to see that only about a quarter of us had never been on an airplane. As you know, I haven’t, and I didn’t really know what to expect. Brandelyn on the other hand was looking forward to our flight!
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 (Alison) have a very colorful blue 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 (Elizabeth) 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 flight #2718, 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 101 Missouri Youth Tour participants (that’s 91 delegates and 10 chaperones) on the plane.
Like I said, I (Elizabeth) 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 6:20 p.m. at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C. 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 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 which opened last year. 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 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!
Check back later for our posts and pictures… Thanks!
Alison, Brandelyn, Elizabeth, Marissa, Gabriel and Grant