Twenty-eight keen History and Politics students and four members of staff set off for Washington DC immediately after the end of term. The White House and its impressive Christmas tree on the evening of the first day started the tour.
On the second day it was off to the Pentagon, the world’s largest low-rise office building and home of the US Department of Defence. Members of the US military, who succeeded in walking backwards for the entirety of the tour, guided us around the corridors of the impressive structure, before we visited the memorial to those who had died there on 9/11. This was followed by a return to the city centre to visit the very moving US Holocaust Museum. It was a thought-provoking and emotive experience for the group, and certainly succeeded in being what the museum promised – a question, rather than an answer. The final stop of the first day was the National Archives, which provided an opportunity to see some of the most important documents from American history, including the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and Bill of Rights.
The following day promised to be as action-packed as the first, and it didn’t disappoint as our tour-guide took us first to Ford’s Theatre, the venue where Lincoln was assassinated. All the pupils were fascinated not just by the theatre itself, but also the accompanying museum which provided insight into Lincoln’s life, death and legacy, and also the motivations of John Wilkes Booth, and the 12-day manhunt to find him after the assassination. From here, we made a relatively brief visit to the Museum of American History before stopping for lunch at the architecturally impressive Union Station. It was the afternoon that would be possibly the most memorable of the trip though, as we were taken on a tour of the US Capitol Building and were then able to see the Senate in session; a real privilege. Many of the group then made a final dash from Capitol Hill to the Air & Space Museum to catch a glimpse of some of the most influential planes and space-craft of the past 150 years, including the Wright Flyer, the Spitfire, and the Apollo 11 Command Module.
Our final day in the city brought with it perfect weather for a walking tour of the main monuments. Highlights included the Lincoln Memorial, Korean War Memorial and WWI Memorial, to name just a few, but the real treat was being able to ride in an elevator to the top of the 555ft Washington Monument for a truly stunning view of the city. Our final destination was then the well-known international spy museum.
Thanks must go to all the staff for giving up their holidays to help on the trip, and for their enthusiasm and good humour throughout.