2019 Youth Tour: Day 5
Historic. The word of the day. The La Plata Electric Association Youth Tour delegates loaded the bus with their Colorado and Wyoming representatives at 7:30 a.m., and the bus headed south on George Washington Memorial Parkway to Mount Vernon, Virginia and George Washington’s Mount Vernon.
We ate breakfast at Mount Vernon and then entered the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association Theatre. The audience watched a short film on George Washington’s military career and political occupation. Everyone was excited to explore George Washington’s estate. Colorado Youth Tour delegates were everywhere.
George Washington’s Mount Vernon is beautiful! I had no idea his estate would be so beautiful. We toured Washington’s 22-room mansion and saw the rooms where he slept, ate and worked. There were lots of artifacts used by George Washington on display in his home. George and Martha Washington lived here from 1759 until General Washington's death in 1799.
The view of the Potomac River from his back deck was amazing. The grounds of the Mount Vernon Estate were beautiful! We toured more than a dozen outbuildings including the slave quarters, kitchen, stables, and greenhouse. Our Colorado Youth Tour delegates walked all over the 8,000-acre plantation!
We got lost several times in the gardens, hiked on the Forest Trail, and viewed the tomb where George and Martha Washington rest in peace. The delegates witnessed a wreath laying ceremony at the tomb.
Lunch. To go… The Colorado Rural Electric Association provided a box lunch for the Youth Tour delegates. Each student picked a box and a bottle of water. Hydrate is the key word of the day with temperature reaching the mid 90’s this afternoon. We loaded up the buses at 11:45 a.m. and counted off. 1, 2, 3… 53! All delegates were present and accounted for. Mr. B stepped on the gas and we traveled to our next appointment at Arlington National Cemetery.
Upon arriving at Arlington National Cemetery, we visited the gravesite of the John Fitzgerald Kennedy. We stood and watched the eternal flame flicker in the breeze over the gravesite of our 35th President. The flame has burned brightly for 56 years since that tragic day in Dallas. His wife Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy is laid to rest next to him. I (Irie) stood there and looked at their black headstones and wondered what the world would have been like if they were alive today.
Quick… How many Presidents are buried in Arlington National Cemetery? Well, I just told you about JFK. Give up? Two. William Howard Taft, our 27th President, was the first president to be buried here in 1930. He was also the only person to have served as the President of the United States and the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Now that is impressive!
We visited the grave of Frank W. Buckles. Who is Frank W. Buckles you might ask? Mr. Buckles was the last surviving American veteran of World War I. Frank W. Buckles received the World War I Victory Medal, Army Occupation of Germany Medal and the French Legion of Honor Medal. A truly great American!
He served in both World War I and II. Frank W. Buckles passed away on February 27, 2011 at the age of 110 years old. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery near the grave of General John Pershing, who was also from Missouri and led the Expeditionary Forces in World War I. President Barak Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden attended the ceremony.
Did you know that more than 100 burial services are performed each week at the Arlington National Cemetery? We then took a tram to our next destination. Along the way, we saw seemingly endless rows of white headstones. I also learned that there are more than 300,000 people buried in Arlington, making it the second largest national cemetery in the United States.
When the tram stopped we got off to see the Tomb of the Unknowns. Fortunately, we were just in time to see the famed “changing of the guard,” which happens at the top and bottom of every hour, 365 days a year. It was incredible to watch in silence as the Tomb Guard sentinel paced back and forth, taking precision in every movement.
The ceremony reminded me (Diego) of the honor and respect due to the troops who guard our freedom every day.
5:30 p.m. We arrived at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and took an exclusive tour of the complex. The center is located on the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., and was named in 1964 as a memorial to President John F. Kennedy. The multi-dimensional facility produces a wide array of performances encompassing the genres of theater, dance, ballet, and orchestral, chamber, jazz, popular, and folk music; offers multi-media performances for adults and children; and we are going to attend tonight’s production of Hello, Dolly! Yes! We are so excited!
Good night from Arlington, Virginia…
Emma, Heleny, Larissa, Diego and Irie