This year’s trip to Washington DC was one to remember. It started out like any other. On the morning of March 2nd, the Second Form took a bus to the airport, where we caught a flight to Washington. When we arrived, we hopped onto coach buses. Our first stop was the Pentagon City Mall, where we went to the food court and ate. We had about two hours to eat and look around. After eating, the buses took us to the Pentagon. On the way there, our tour guides pointed out landmarks and monuments around us. The ride to the Pentagon was short, and we arrived within a half-hour of leaving the mall. When we arrived, we were asked to form a single file line alphabetically. The security consisted of checking our IDs and walking through a metal detector. The security guards were carrying semi-automatic guns and holstered pistols. Once we got through the security, we were given visitor badges and told not to lose them. They also gave us a free US Army pin which we could wear on our blazers. The first thing we did in the Pentagon was head to the back, where we took a picture with US Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley. After the picture was taken, General Milley invited us to his office, where incredibly more than 60 people could fit. His assistant told interesting facts about the office while we all stood in awe. Some of the soldiers were even stunned because it was their first time in the office as well. The four-star general was very hospitable and he even gave two of his Army Chief of Staff coins to students in our grade. In the office, we were asked to take more pictures, in which he let a few students hold a signed wooden Patriots football. Standing in the presence of such an important man was truly an honor.
After the office tour, the Second Form split into two groups. Each group went their separate ways and took tours of the rest of the Pentagon. The tour guides were Air Force soldiers and were very informed. They walked us through the corridors and informed us about the Pentagon’s dimensions. The Pentagon has five layers and is five floors high. It also has five sides and in the center there is a beautiful courtyard where the soldiers can take breaks from their stressful jobs. After the tour, we said goodbye to the Pentagon and headed back towards the buses. We still had a couple hours until dinner, so we went to the Air Force memorial. The memorial can be easily recognized because of the three spires protruding from the ground, each over 200 feet tall. We then went to Quarters One, the home of General Milley, where we were invited to have dinner. The dinner was prepared by Mrs. Milley herself. We spread out across the first floor and began eating the delicious food. General Milley arrived while we were eating and began to talk with the teachers. After we had finished eating, the general offered us a tour of his lovely house. He showed us the room where President Eisenhower used to watercolor and an incredible view of Washington from his upstairs window. The General even told us a story of a scary ghost that lived in his upstairs closet, but it turned out to just be a trick. Before we left, the General gave us a packet which described Quarters One and the picture which we had taken earlier at the Pentagon. On behalf of the entire Form, I would like to thank General Mark Milley for his hospitality and for inviting us to the Pentagon and Quarters One. Afterwards, we visited a few outdoor monuments, such as the US Marine Corps Monument and Thomas Jefferson’s memorial. After a long day, we headed to our hotel and found out our roommates. We were given half an hour to get some snacks but were not allowed to leave our rooms.
The next morning, we were given a beautiful breakfast buffet at the hotel which fueled us up for another incredible day in Washington. The first thing we did was visit Arlington National Cemetery. While there we witnessed the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers. Matt Drucker, Emmett Greenwood, Griffin Hamilton, and Jackson O’Donnell laid a wreath at the Tomb. After this ceremony, we visited the gravesite of America’s 35th President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. By his grave lies an eternal flame. Afterwards, we ate lunch on the steps of an art museum in central Washington. Visiting the Capitol building was next on the list. While taking our buses to the Capitol building, our tour guides informed us about the building. We arrived and walked to the foot of the building where the inauguration will take place in January. We then proceeded to the entrance of the building. To get in, we went through some more security. While we were inside, we progressed through a museum that discussed the history of the Capitol Building. We then went to the top of the Capitol building where we saw an incredible view of Washington DC. After that, we were escorted through the building by a tour guide who knew all there was to know about the building. We saw the old Senate room, the old House of Representatives room, and the old Supreme Court room. We even stood inside the Rotunda. Before dinner, we went to the Newseum for a few hours. While there, many of us watched an interesting 4D movie on investigative reporting. Some of us also glimpsed into the past by looking at newspaper articles dating back all the way to 1456. After the Newseum, most of us were starved, and we headed to Carmine’s to eat. Following the tasty meal, we visited more monuments, such as the World War II Memorial and the Korean War Memorial. We also visited the beautiful Lincoln Memorial that night. The Lincoln Memorial was where Martin Luther King stood while giving his “I Have a Dream” speech. The 19-foot statue inside the building looks directly at the Washington Monument and the Capitol building. During that night, we also visited the outside of the White House, where we took some pictures as snow began to fall. By the time we arrived back at the hotel, we were all ready to get some rest.
The next morning, we were greeted by the same breakfast buffet to get us ready to go to the White House. Everyone was very excited and hopped right into the buses. On the way there, the cheer could be felt in the air. When there, we had to go through a lot of security, but we all thought it would be worth it when we got in. Finally, we had made it through security and were in the first room. There were ropes to keep us heading in the right direction. It felt like a museum and not the White House. Walking through the five or six rooms available to us just didn’t seem like we were at the home of the President of the United States. We all left feeling disappointed by this unfulfilling tour of the White House. Since the visit took less than an hour, we still had time before our flight. We went straight to the Smithsonian Air and Flight Museum and were the first ones there. When in the museum, many of us headed towards the Flight Simulators. The Flight Simulator was amazing. It was a two person flight simulator with one person being the pilot and the other being the gunner. Finally, the time to leave had come. We took our buses to the airport and said goodbye to the tour guides. We ate at the terminal and hopped on the plane to go home. The bus from the airport to Belmont Hill seemed different than the one to the airport a few days earlier. We had seen many cool places and learned many new things. The 2016 trip to Washington DC was not like any other.