by Nathan Revor
On Dec. 4, 2014, juniors in Mrs. Melanie Kiernan and Mrs. Emika Burke’s AP Language and Composition classes took a trip to the nation’s capital. Having studied Arlington National Cemetery by reading and discussing Robert M. Poole’s On Hallowed Ground, as well as examples of WWII political media, the legal case Korematsu v. US, and two speeches from Franklin D. Roosevelt, the students were able to fully appreciate the monuments and memorials they visited and further their understanding of the topics.
“Arlington National Cemetery was a trip that showed just how much life needs to be appreciated,” said junior Garrett Vercoe, “because it is impossible to fathom the importance of life without seeing firsthand the cost of it.”
It was a long, fun, enriching and exhausting day. The first stop was Arlington National Cemetery. Four students—Maria Burgess, Susanna Ostrowski, Kevin O’Callaghan and I, Nathan Revor—had the privilege of presenting a wreath from Paul VI. “I felt very honored to present the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier,” said Burgess. “I was happy I was able to show my respect for the soldiers who died serving our great country.”
O’Callaghan described it as “a priceless opportunity to honor a fallen American soldier, which is a fundamental duty.” The visit to Arlington also included stops at the Kennedy’s Eternal Flame and the Women in Military Service Memorial Center, a museum with exhibits describing the sacrifices females have made for our country.
Following this, the class travelled across the Potomac to visit the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial. All the students had recently read and annotated both FDR’s “Day of Infamy” Speech and his inaugural address. Thus, walking through the memorial, which expressed these speeches and his other ideals through symbolic sculptures, tied together many of the concepts discussed earlier. Students walked freely around the memorial, taking in the nice weather, sculptures and landscaping.
After a circuit around the Tidal Basin, students crossed the street to the World War II Memorial. Here, they roamed freely and absorbed the memorial’s beauty and symbolism. Many took pictures in front of the pillars representing states that were important to them and read the various patriotic quotes placed all around the memorial. “It was my first time to the cemetery and the two memorials,” said Genna Coan. “It’s really beautiful how we as a country honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice.”
Hungry, the students left the WWII Memorial to eat a lunch at Union Station before returning to school. “The DC trip was a great bonding experience with our class,” said Lauren Faloni, “and we really learned a lot about the men and women who have fought to make this country as safe as possible. It was an honor to be there.”