Hello all. I'm back. And none of you knew I was really gone. I hesitate posting that I will be out of town for fear that some of my students may finally find my blog and do something unfortunate in my absence.
Anyhizzle, I'm back after seven days in Washington D.C.. What a trip. In every sense of the word it, was great. Aside from airport security, which is a farce, we are all doomed. I had the great pleasure, along with one of my colleagues, of escorting ten students to the Close-Up
foundation's new Americans program. As this was my first time, I too was a student. The students participated in their own program and I came and went through the separate teacher program. Here is what I saw and did in seven days:
Old Post office. Took the stairs all the way to the top. Cool view.
Korean War Memorial
World War II Monument
Walked the entire circumference of the Reflecting Pool.
Sat in on a session of the House of Representatives along with meeting my district representative.
Saw the a nearly full Senate in action. Saw Ted Kennedy, Lemar Alexander, Trent Lott, Joseph Lieberman, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, George Mitchell and Rick Santorum debating a resolution to a trade agreement to increase agricultrural trade with Cuba.
Toured the Supreme Court.
Went to the Smithsonian Musuems several times. Air and Space, Natural History, National Gallery, American History and Native American.
Arlington National Cemetery.
National Archives. Got as close as security would allow me to the Constitution, Declaration, and Bill of Rights.
Met Chris Matthews and asked him a few questions.
Spent hours walking around the Library of Congress with my mouth open, not uttering a word.
Went to the National Cathedral. In a word, "wow".
Saw a Play at Ford's Theatre. I sat 15 feet under the balcony in which Lincoln was shot.
Toured the outside of the White House. I saw Marine One land on the south lawn and saw George W. Bush walk out. If only I had some fresh produce with me at the time.
Lafayette Square. Cool French dude.
I paid too much for bottled water. Got really great prices on T-shirts of questionable quality, and walked more miles than I can count.
Rode the Metro between two sates. Mass transit rocks. Yes, that Berlin song played in my head every time I got on a train.
But more than anything, my students had a great time. I honestly think they got someting out of the program. They were exposed to the workings of our democracy, warts and all, and came away, I hope, changed, empowered with the knowledge to be responsible citizens in one of the oldest democracies on the planet.
Suprisingly, I too was changed. After the last election, I had decided that American democracy was so badly broken that it did not matter if I voted or not. I had resolved to no longer vote. I became apolitical. I even called my local registrar to find out how to unregister to vote. I did not want to be part of a process that re-relected George Bush after all the people he has murdered and all the over time pay he has stolen from the working class. But somewhere in the week, I unknowingly began to re-evaluate my decision. There was something about seeing the nation's capital in all it's splendor, excess and dysfunction that made me realize I could not, not vote. Many of the Founding Fathers were probably racist. The Three Fifths Clause of the Constitution still breaks my hearts along with the disenfranchisement of women in the beginning. But I do belive that these dudes knew they were setting up an organic system that could evolve over time and bring more Americans under the big tent by expanding the ideals of the founding documents to more and more citizens. I really do think we have come a long way in the last 229 years and we still have miles to go in some ways. But I know all this and with knowledge comes responsibility. I have a responsibility to vote. I'm not trying to sound overtly patriotic in some misdirected jingoistic sentiment, but I mean it. I have a responsibility to vote, regardless of whether or not I agree with the outcome of an election. Such is the burden of knowledge.
Peace to all who cared to read and even those who don't.