Mount Vernon and Iwo Jima

Trip Start Jun 28, 2008
Trip End Jul 07, 2008

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Flag of United States  ,
Wednesday, July 2, 2008

You'd think that July 4th would be the most patriotic day of this tour... It may very well be, but July 1st was pretty amazing! After singing a noontime mass for appreciative Maryland workers on their lunch break, we travelled to a whole different state! Virginia, that is - to the Mount Vernon estate. After learning so much about the man who was instrumental in giving birth to our nation, the boys could not wait to "discover the REAL George Washington", as the tour company says... Not only did we get to tour the beautiful grounds which overlook the Patomac river, but we were able to see spots that most groups do not, such as the basement, the very interesting ice house (where frozen river water was harvested and stored deep in the earth year round), and the waterfront. This was all part of the special "National Treasure" tour which details some of the filming of the Nicholas Cage movie which was partially filmed on the grounds. We were also proud to be allowed to sing "America the Beautiful" for a crowd of onlookers at Washington's tomb. It was a great way to honor the man, and everyone enjoyed our singing. The tour guides even opened the gates of the tomb for us. It was quite moving. After a sunny and cool day (our mildest yet, and very comfortable), the boys enjoyed fruits, water, and ice cream sandwiches purchased by Mr. Meyer as the bus drove back to the district. We were then escorted directly to the Iwo Jima memorial with a special clearance for our bus (so we didn't have to walk or wait in line!) and were then escorted directly to our cushioned seats by a US Marine (most people had to scout out spots on the grass). From this vantage point, we were able to take in performances by the very impressive Marine's Drum and Bugle Corps and the silent drill team (rifle flipping/twirling and precision movements performed with no verbal commands). Taps was played by a lone bugler from atop the base of the memorial (the largest bronze statue in the world!). It certainly was a thrill to end our day by finally seeing the famous statue in person. The "Marine Corps Sunset Parade" was indeed very inspiring. Now we may have some Marines in addition to our senators from the GGBC. Tomorrow we visit another president's home: Jefferson's Monticello; and the boys will have their first day with no performances! I'm sure we'll find a spot to sing a few, though!

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