Thursday, I spent 12 hours as a chaperone to eight 8th graders in Washington DC. We saw the Arlington National Cemetery, the Jefferson Memorial, the Capitol, and several of the Smithsonian museums.
What a day. I really respect those teachers. They have a tough job.
What was disappointing to me was that we didn't get to go inside the Capitol Building. Guards with automatic weapons were prevalent around the structure. We couldn't even stand still to try to organize the several hundred school children who had been given the wrong directions by Capitol staff. We lumbered from one spot to the next, stopped to regroup for a few seconds before security forces would swoop down on us again to tell us we couldn't stand still. This happened 4 or 5 times until we used up all of the time we had allotted to tour the Capitol, and then we left.
Very few people appreciate security as much as do I. But there is something very disheartening about showing these kids where our government is, and being treated that way. By the end of it, I was fully prepared to be arrested and interrogated. I would have been fine with that.
The rest of the trip was wonderful. Nice weather. Reasonably good kids. Security at the Smithsonian was both workable and effective. The dinosaurs seemed smaller than I remembered though.
It just wasn't like I remembered it from my school trips. I guess nothing is.