Student travel to D.C. and the courage of George Washington
Many of the educational tours to Washington, D.C. that we lead every year begin with an orientation at the National Mall. On the western edge of this one mile strip is the most uber-American super-iconic 555′ multi-colored vertical stone obelisk that seems to snap straight up out of the eighth graders history class textbook pages. This monument is dedicated to George Washington, the Father of our Country and todays Birthday Boy.
We love traveling with students on their trip to Washington, D.C., obviously. The popular sites are great fun, but there’s more to learn about George Washington other than the fact that his Monument has 897 steps to the top and that it weighs 81,000 tons, or that Washington did inherit Mount Vernon from his older half-brother Lawrence who named it after his commanding officer in the British Army. Did you know that the Washingtons owned 316 slaves who tended to the 400 acre property? These interesting facts and figures about America’s first President actually tell little about the great man and leader he was. On all of our class trips we teach (and especially today we want to remember) about the great valor associated with Washington. Valor is defined as “great courage in the face of danger, fearlessness, boldness, or heroism.” All of these words clearly describe Washington, and we hope that they can one day (if not already) describe our eighth grade Global Travelers.
All of our student trips to D.C. also involve a walking tour of Arlington National Cemetery. We use an event like the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to remind student groups that Freedom Is Not Free (this phrase is inscribed on a wall at the Korean War Memorial). Although not buried at Arlington, as the Commander of the Continental Army in the great Revolutionary War Washington also fought for our freedoms. It’s so important to know that he is one of U.S.A.’s most heoric soldiers. For example, in the Battle of Princeton he rode his horse around fleeing Continental Army troops and rallied the militia, personally leading a counterattack. Thirty yards from British lines Washington ordered his men to fire, and after the smoke dissappated, he then ordered a charge to rally behind him. Instead of orchestrating an attack from a chair with maps and scouting reports, Washington took courage to a whole new level and to the front lines.
A young officer who witnessed Washington fight at Princeton that winter remembered it the following way:
“I saw him brave all the dangers of the battlefield with a thousand deaths flying around him. This is an example of courage I have never seen.”
That should be the thesis for every class trip to D.C. It’s why the Washington Monument stands up so tall and why it’s important for us to take pictures of it while on tour. This and all other symbols of George Washington help communicate that great courage can be shown by anyone and it’s a definite necessity for current and future world leaders. It’s why Global Travel Alliance exists – to provide teachers, parents, and especially students the opportunity to travel to D.C., learn about the values of our country and it’s heroes, and then apply those learned lessons to our lives and become leaders with great character in a local and global context.
That’s why we started Global Doing Good and why we invite you to become a Service Scholar. If you’re a high school student who wants to be more like George Washington and make a positive impact on the world while serving others and traveling the world, you should check it out!