Since middle school, history has always been one of my favorite subjects. I have always found learning about the past extremely interesting. Whether it is learning about ancient wars or the fight for American freedom, I have always enjoyed learning about real life events rather than theories or formulas I may never actually use.
This past week, I had the opportunity to attend a national FFA conference called the Washington Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. The conference aspect of the week was nothing short of life-changing, but sightseeing in D.C. was fantastic as well.
My group arrived to D.C. one day early, so we spent the night in a hotel on the outskirts of the city. The next morning, we woke up and headed to the National Zoo. From elephants to apes, the zoo had plenty to see. After checking into the conference, the week was full of tours and trips around the city.
The first tour we took as a part of the conference was Arlington National Cemetery. While we were there, we were able to see the Changing of the Guard Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It was an extremely humbling experience to see individuals who serve no matter the situation or weather, especially as it was pouring down rain on the day of our visit.
We then took a night bus tour of the city, getting out at stops including the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and several others. While we were visiting the Lincoln Memorial, the sun began to set over the Reflecting Pool. It was an incredible sight, and a perfect photo op.
Later on in the week, I had the opportunity to take a private tour of the Capital building. We were able to take the private tunnels from a Congress office building to the Capital, which felt like something out of a movie. The tunnel walls were lined with art from art contests sponsored by each congressman. The tunnels were certainly not as crowded as a subway station, but they were filled with quite a few people who looked to be handling important business matters.
When we arrived to the Capital Building, we saw many historical paintings and fixtures. We had the chance to see the old Supreme Courtroom. We were even able to step out on to the Speaker’s Balcony, which is the private balcony of the Speaker of the House.
We also had the opportunity to visit the National Archives, which houses many important historical documents. This was one of my favorite visits of the week, as we got to see the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. I was a bit disappointed that we were not allowed to take pictures while we were there, however. Regardless, it was still amazing to see, in person, the documents that are responsible for the formation of our country and our government.
This visit to Washington, D.C., was certainly one I will never forget. To be surrounded by the amount of history that has existed in the city felt like a huge privilege. While I normally am not a huge fan of cities, I absolutely fell in love with D.C. Certain aspects of the city were a bit much for me, whether it be the crowds of people or the fast moving subway trains. Regardless, I am extremely thankful to have had the experience and see all of the historical sights in Washington, D.C.