ALENA HANSON Features & Opinions editor
I flew for the first time this past week to spend spring break in Washington D.C. It was scary and rocky, but I got through it and landed in a place so different from home. The hustle and bustle of the city made me crave southern hospitality. However, it was also a beautiful city filled with museums, wonderful places to eat and amazing sights.
Our hotel was amazing. It was a walk from the nearest metro station, but what place isn’t a walk in D.C.? There was a mall close by with four stories and stores that I had never seen before. There were taxis and shuttles and so many other things that are not found in Demorest.
Now, let’s talk about the metro. That train is fast and will leave you behind if you are not fast enough. People are rude and shove you, but you must do the same to claim a stable position. It is a nice way to travel, especially after a long day of walking. You also get a metro card that you have to swipe to get into the actual station. You should hold onto everything because that thing jerks you around. Yet, you get to see all different types of people and landscapes. It was an experience for sure.
Next comes the museums. The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History was amazing. There were hundreds of people and so many exhibits. We could see the Hope Diamond, recreations of animals, sea critters that once existed and so much more. The other Smithsonian Museums were just as delightful and large. It took two days to get through almost all of them!
The best museum for me was outside the Smithsonian range. The Holocaust Museum was a solemn place. You start out with Daniel’s story and feel every bone in your body telling you to cry. Then, the chronological tour is started. You see Hitler’s rise to power. You see his people cheering and spreading hatred. Then, you see the victims and what the Nazis and their followers did to their fellow human beings. You see the atrocities a man can do to another. You hear survivor stories. It is like everything you knew, but had forced yourself not to think about, bubbling out. Every single piece of evidence that is presented just makes you want to shield your eyes and stay ignorant, but you cannot anymore. The whole understanding of what happened and seeing stuff for your own eyes makes you think. It makes you wonder if you would have helped the victims. It makes you wonder how hatred can grow so big so quickly. I was blessed to have the opportunity to visit the museum and see what everyone should see once in their lifetime.
On to a lighter topic: the Lincoln Memorial. ‘Wow’ is the only word to describe what being so close to Lincoln’s Memorial makes you feel. It was large and crafted so well. It was my favorite monument of the trip, and I will never be able to forget it.
Speaking of memorials, I was given the honor of representing Piedmont at an Arlington Cemetery Wraith Laying Ceremony with three other girls. It was silent and yet so beautiful—that graveyard. It held soldiers that made sure people in the U.S. were free. I could not get over how much respect I felt towards mere headstones. I also felt an entire wave of delight in being able to witness the Arlington soldiers guarding the Tomb of the Unknown. It was a pleasure just to be able to be a part of such a high honor. It was a humbling experience to say the least.
I was also able to see the White House and take a tour of the Capital. It was crazy to see both in real life after years of seeing them on television. The Capital tour was incredible in a way that you would have to be there to understand. All the statues and history are just indescribable. There were politicians on the outside just like I had always seen in the media. It was incredible to behold history not only within the building, but also outside.
Also, did I mention I got to ice skate? That was an experience that I had only ever dreamed about doing because, if you know me, that is not my life. However, I enjoyed it and even though I held on to the rail for most (OK, the entire time), I really enjoyed myself.
I have to mention the best roommates ever. Sloane Day, Torrey McDowell and Lizbeth Aguilera were everything I could hope for. With four women in one room with one bathroom, you would think it would be a disaster zone. However, we made it work and were always on time. We would talk at night and indulge in sweet treats. We even had to present a leadership presentation one of the days, and I can say we rocked it. I am thankful that I got them for my group. I will always remember the time we spent together.
Overall, my trip to D.C. was everything I could have imagined. I know I do not want to live there, but it is a wonderful place to visit. I would recommend the trip to anyone. It was my first trip out of the south and to be honest, the rushing and expensive nature was not for me. However, I did enjoy my time spent there and hope to one day take my mom to see the sights. I am grateful that Piedmont College gave me the opportunity.