2019 Youth Tour: Day 3
Friday morning. The Colorado Youth Tour chaperones provided a wake-up call at 5:15 a.m. Yes, 5:15 a.m. We should have gone to bed when they told us last night. Everybody loaded their luggage into the bus, and we pulled out of the hotel parking lot at 6:15 a.m.
7:00 a.m. United Power in Brighton, Colorado. We toured the electric cooperative facility and attended an electric safety demonstration. The demonstration was led by a United Power lineman who experienced a near fatal contact with a three-phase utility line. He was severely injured and received burns covering 80 percent of his body. He lost his right arm due to his injuries and went through more than 100 surgeries and took several years to recover. An incredible story of determination and the will to live. Now he is teaching electrical safety and his message is one you will never forget!
8:00 a.m. We arrived at the Denver International Airport and unloaded 78 pieces of luggage for 53 Youth Tour delegates and seven chaperones… Yes, the numbers don’t add-up! We lined-up at the Southwest Airlines counter. Everyone checked their bags and received their boarding pass for the flight to Washington Dulles International Airport. Yes!
Then we went around the corner and saw the number of people lined-up at the TSA security check point. It took about an hour for everyone to go through the TSA inspection and make it to our Southwest Airlines gate. This left us with about 20 minutes to get and eat breakfast before boarding our plane.
10:55 a.m. Southwest Airlines Flight #409 pulled-off the runway and headed east as just about every Colorado Youth Tour delegate and chaperone fell asleep.
Our plane landed at 4:20 p.m. at Washington Dulles International Airport. Liz planned for us to us to use a deluxe motor coach for our transportation to Washington, D.C. We loaded our luggage for the second time today and Clint counted the delegates for the fifth time this morning. 1, 2, 3… 53! All delegates present and accounted for. Let’s roll, Colorado and Wyoming! Within seconds, Mr. B, our driver pulled out of the airport and headed south on the George Washington Memorial Parkway.
The delegates cheered when we could finally see the Washington, D.C. skyline. As we drove through the city, we could see the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol rising above the skyline. It was awesome! Liz announced what each building was as we made our way through the city streets. She provided lots of interesting facts about Washington, D.C. The number of people walking on the sidewalks beside the streets and along the National Mall was unbelievable. Mr. B pulled up on the west end of the United States Capitol, opened the doors, and everyone jumped out with their phones in their hands taking a million pictures.
7:30 p.m. Wow! First up for our Youth Tour today was the Lincoln Memorial. It’s stunning in the morning during the sunrise. The Reflecting Pool was beautiful with the reflection of the Washington Monument. We climbed the stairs and saw the marker where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. What an incredible moment that must have been for the individuals who witnessed this historic event.
We gazed at the 19-foot marble statue of Honest Abe. Wow! What an amazing monument highlighting our 16th President and his famous speeches like the Gettysburg address. All the Youth Tour delegates were amazed at the size of Lincoln’s statue. We have seen it in numerous pictures and movies, but to stand before it and truly see the grand scale of this statue is magnificent. Thank you, La Plata Electric Association for providing us with this experience!
The Korean War Veterans Memorial features polished black granite walls with more than 2,500 images of soldiers etched into the stone. There are 19 statues of soldiers, each larger than life, patrolling the memorial grounds. This creates a rather unique reflection on the memorial’s walls.
The memorial is highlighted by a large circular pool, called the Pool of Remembrance, that is bordered by black granite stones that list the number of American soldiers killed, wounded, missing in action and held as a prisoner of war. There is an inscription on one of the walls that reads “Freedom Is Not Free.”
We visited the Vietnam War Veterans Memorial. Pictures do not capture the magnitude of this grand memorial. Unlike the other memorials in Washington, D.C. which rise above the ground level, the Vietnam War Veterans Memorial features two black granite walls that are sunk into the ground.
The two walls stretch more than 250 feet each and contain 144 panels containing the names of more than 58,000 men and women who died for our country. The names seemed to continue forever. All the war memorials helped me realize the true toll of war and gave me a better appreciation for our service men and women.
We met several Honor Flight servicemen and women from Sacramento, California today. One individual, Fred Oginz, a World War II veteran explained what it meant to him to serve in the United States Armed Forces in the Pacific at 18 years old. We made a new friend today, and Fred acquired several new Facebook friends from Colorado. Thank you for the freedoms we enjoy!
Mr. B picked us up at 9:30 p.m. and we headed across town to check into our hotel, the Hilton Chrystal City in Arlington, Virginia. There are about 800 other Youth Tour delegates from states 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 Alaska, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming!
We attended several Youth Tour delegate educational sessions after dinner, and we had some free time to hang out with and get to know the students from the other states. This was the perfect way to end our first day in Washington, D.C.!
Good night from Arlington, Virginia…
Emma, Heleny, Larissa, Diego and Irie