Many of you already know that I take a group of 8th graders to Washington DC. This year we had thirty-seven students and nine adults. Although we ran into many obstacles we had a great time. Other than dealing with a larger-than-usual block of negative Nancy's keeping a good attitude was vital to the sanity of those over the age of sixteen.
The trip started out with our flights being on time and getting us to our destination (Baltimore) without so much as a hiccup. We met our tour director then loaded on the bus. Away we went to imagining a trip filled with Memorials and tours and wonderful historical sites. It was like being in a candy story for those of us history nerds leading the group.
Again, like last year, we lucked out and were able to get right in at the National Archives. We were able to check out the Vietnam Wall where I had some of the kids find soldiers my father served with. I told some of his stories to help make the Wall 'come alive' for the students. The rain started and the next thing we knew we were trapped in the Lincoln Memorial in one heck of a thunder storm. What a place to get 'trapped' in. I told the story of the paintings above the two speeches, and we were off to the Korean War Memorial that we had all to ourselves.
The next day we traveled to Mt. Vernon, the home of George Washington, where we were truly blessed. We had the opportunity to see three soldiers receive their Purple Heart. On that subject, I want to take this chance to thank my dad for his service in Vietnam where on June 13th, 1969, the actions of the day led to his second Purple Heart. The ceremony was led by the Secretary of the Army who is to the right of the soldier in the picture above. The grounds at Mt. Vernon were also celebrating the 140th birthday of the Army. What better place to do it than at the home of our first general? We would not be the country we are today had he not decided to give up that power once the Revolutionary War was won.
The day continued with a tour of the Library of Congress and our Nation's Capitol building. We were unable to see the Senate gallery, but Senator Rounds did meet us on the steps for a group photo. Once we were done there we made our way to the Wax Museum that surprisingly had more to do with history than I realized. I tended to a sick kid in the lobby as others raced through. The lady who did the original waxes had to do it in France of heads after they had been guillotined so they could be put on sticks as a 'warning' to people who might oppose the powers that be. Madam Tussaud eventually turned it into a very profitable business.
The next day started at the Senate building where we had the opportunity to meet all three of South Dakota's representatives. The students were great and a few had some real through-provoking questions. Both senators discussed with the room filled with people from South Dakota what they were currently working on. Congresswoman Kristi Noem then let us all in what the House was trying to accomplish. If ever in DC, this breakfast meeting happens every Wednesday Congress is in session.
The next two days were spent out of DC in Williamsburg and Charlottesville were history really comes alive. For those of us history buffs, we were able to see the house of James Madison's for the first time. I was as giddy and almost passed out when standing in the room where Madison spent months studying forms of government to write the Constitution. If those walls could talk...
We did tour the house of Jefferson at Monticello, but we were rained out. We were forced into the cellar for quite a spell. That was okay, we were able to see his grave and spend some time in the gift shop (best ever). During our visit of the house, the tour guide asked about the most famous slave there, meaning Sally Hemmings who is the slave many believe Jefferson had children with. One of my students cried out, "Harriet Tubman!" Right then and there I thought perhaps I should turn in my resignation.
The final day we did have delays. The first call was for a two-hour delay. No big deal, some of us were bummed since I had originally planned a trip to Fort McHenry, but we were still going to make our connecting flight. Then the call was eleven pm, then back to eight pm, then maybe six, oh wait, looks like seven, and finally our plane left just after nine.
The people in Baltimore were absolutely awful. We wanted to make a stink, but with forty plus people we didn't what to make it worse. Not to mention current events in the area might mean tensions are a bit high in that town, and any questionable move might lead to an arrest by States Attorney Mosby. Delta Baltimore actually threatened to throw off some of our kids if they didn't check their bags. There would have been no way for us to get our luggage and get back into the airport. At that time, there was no flight home, so we didn't have a boarding pass to get back in the airport. It was a mess. Again, Delta Baltimore needs to make some changes. The staff there was anything but cordial.
That wasn't the story at Delta Minneapolis. This group of employees needs to be commended for their commitment to excellence. The moment we deplaned ( I love that term) we were greeted by three employees who first apologized for the entire mess. They then went right into what they were doing about it. Dinner was on the way for all of us. They had a separate room with mattress pads, blankets, and pillows (it seems like an endless supply) for us to sleep in. One of the kids exclaimed, "Mr. Flores! This is like, the biggest sleepover ever!" We had some of the parents that needed a room, and without hesitation they were given one. We were told that breakfast would arrive in the morning. The sandwiches had little stickers on them with an apology. Two of our kids were given new flights to meet up with their parents leaving for vacation on Sunday. Every step of the was Delta Minneapolis was incredible.
Delta Minneapolis. YOU ROCK!
We arrived home to crying mothers and hugs all around. It is a trip we will all remember for the rest of our lives. The students were beyond amazing. They were forced to wait over eight hours in an airport. Strangers came by complimenting us on how great our kids were. There is a reason I have my child in the Rapid City Catholic School System, and it's not just because she will over the years get a better than average education. I'm proud of each and every one of them. I am blessed to have had this chance to have stacked another building block on our relationships. God has blessed me in ways I never would have imagined.
Finally, it is worth saying again... Delta Minneapolis- Two very enthusastic thumbs up!
Until next time... God Bless!
Anthony D. Flores loves to spend his summers writing fiction. His strong Christian faith and love for this great country find its way into his fiction. His work is also available on Amazon by Clicking Here.