One of the first big trips I took in my life was in 7th grade. I went to Washington DC with a group from my school. We spent months preparing for the trip; learning about all of the places we were going to see, buying up tons of disposable cameras (thank goodness for the invention of digital), and stressing out about who had crushes on who. We spent a whirlwind 4 days in DC seeing more things than I can even remember now.
7th Grade Sarah’s highlights:
-The Hope Diamond at the Smithsonian. Big, pretty diamond. That’s about it. (In my defense, this WAS summer of 1998, when the movie Titanic was basically ruling the world. Well, at least the junior high world. Anyone who remembers that movie remembers the Heart of the Ocean Diamond, and the Hope Diamond was as close as you could get in the real world.)
-The Changing of the Guards at the tomb of the unknown soldier. This was very moving even as a 12 year old. I would love to go back and witness this again as an adult.
(I know pictures from this trip exist buried somewhere at my parents’ house. If I can ever find them I will post a few on here… Even though they were from my awkward years.)
Fast-forward 15 years and I’m now (pretty much) a grown up, who LOVES museums and history, and hit up DC for a few days after a work conference I had in Baltimore. DC was a much different experience for me this time around. Two days is not NEAR enough time in Washington DC. Honestly, I don’t even know how much time there would be enough.
27 Year Old Sarah’s highlights:
-WWII Memorial. This memorial wasn’t opened until 2004, so it was something new I hadn’t seen in 7th grade. WWII is one of my favorite periods in history to learn about, so I was really looking forward to visiting this memorial. It did not disappoint. There is a large round pool with a fountain in the middle, with pillars representing each state and territory surrounding it in a circle.
-The White House at night. I saw the White House on my 7th grade trip, but seeing it at night this time around was so much more impressive. It looks so much prettier lit at night. I also appreciated it more knowing that I vote on who gets to live there.
Overall, I appreciated everything more this go around, specifically at the memorials. I’ve learned so much in the last 15 years that helped me truly appreciate the sacrifice so many Americans have made for this country. It’s an appreciation that has come with learning things my 7th grade self would not have been able to handle, such as the horrors of war, and mankind’s capacity for evil. I can also see how so much of the history represented here has helped to create the country I live in today. While the United States may not be perfect, I am very grateful to live here.
Have you traveled somewhere when you were young, then again as an adult? Did you see it through different eyes the second time around?