Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Donald

When wondering the streets of NYC, particularly 5th Avenue, you never know who you will run into.  Here Mike's group got the privilege of meeting Mr. Trump.

We Have Arrived Back . . . .

Good morning family and friends!  We arrived safely back home last evening after seven wonderful, fun filled and exciting days on the road.   The YMCA/BMS Freedom Tour was a grand success with many, many magnificent memories.  

We journeyed to our nation's capital and saw an amazing assortment of tributes to our great county and all it offers.  There were countless learning opportunities and many new discoveries along the way.  A lifetime of memories and new friendships.

A special thanks to the team leaders for all their commitment, sacrifice, and support throughout the week.   And, to the students, they were incredible.   They were respectful and represented our Y, our school, and our community very well.   Fun times and memories are what makes Freedom Tour so special.  This group experienced the best of both.

Thank you for following along on our blog.   We will continue to post additional material, so please check back.

Thanks to all,

Francie & Joel

Monday, June 24, 2013

Day Seven and the fun and excitment of visiting the Today Show consumed us.  From there it was shopping and dinning!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Today when we woke up it was cloudy. We went down to breakfast and ate quickly. We then got on the buses and rode to the White House. By then it was pouring, so a ton of people put on their emergency ponchos. We stayed in front of the White House for about half an hour, taking pictures and talking to protestors. We then boarded the bus, dripping wet, and rode to the Holocaust Museum.

At the Holocaust Museum, we quickly filed in through security, gathered as a group on the carpet, and were given small cards that were about someone’s life during the Holocaust. After reading the cards, we piled into three large elevators. We had three hours to explore the museum on our own. Three hours sounds like a long time but there was so much to read, I could have spent a whole day in there. The museum had a ton of text and pictures which really brought the entire experience to life. One of the most touching parts of the museum was a huge pile of shoes. These shoes were found from a small fraction of the people that were killed during the Holocaust.

As we awoke today we found it to be a fairly typical day. We woke up, got ready, got our luggage and headed out for breakfast. It was slightly cloudy but we didn’t quite expect anything to be getting in our way here. We had breakfast in quite a cramped room with lots of other people and ended up packing the bus and leaving slightly late. We were bussed down to the White House and the ride there was almost completely silent, with everyone being asleep. As we got to the White House we sat around for about half an hour, got pictures and spoke with the protesters there. Soon after the White House we went to the World War II Memorial but we couldn’t quite get out because of the rain, so we waited a while and were dropped off at another memorial where we walked to the MLK site. Then we were taken to the Holocaust Museum which was an entirely new experience. As we entered and got through security, we were each given an identification card to read with a story of someone in the Holocaust. We then got put on elevators that were modeled after gas chambers and bussed up to the actual museum where the various exhibits were. Each exhibit was a new story, a new chapter of the world’s advancements that make us who we are today, the past is the artist and we’re a canvas.
Day Six started out with a visit to the White House.   The rain stopped long enough for our traditional group photo.  Then it was off to the U.S Holocaust Memorial Museum.  Our DC visit concluded with lunch along the Basin and visits to the FDR Memorial and the new MLK Memorial.

What a handsome group of students!   The dinner theater was a great way to end another great day.  The day began with a solumn visit to the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam and Korean War Memorials.  The students were very respectful and were able to take so much away from their visit.

Then the day turned to fun, excitement and learning.   The Smithsonian museums were filled and students were seen walking all over the Mall.  The day finished with a wonderful, fun and exciting play - In The Heights. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Day Four of the 2013 Freedom Tour was an incredible day.  The students and team leaders experienced so much; mere words are difficult to explain the emotion and feelings felt by all.   Our visit to the Gettysburg National Military Park was wonderful as the park prepares for the 150th anniversary of the battle.  Our seasoned Battlefield Guides shared the events that defined history and we walked the sacred ground where so many gave their final last measure. 

Once we arrived in Washington DC our first visit was Arlington National Cemetery where we were inspired by the Changing of The Guard at the Tomb on the Unknowns.  It was moving, and our students were exemplary in their demeanor.   We were in awe as we walked the beautifully landscaped paths of this hallowed ground with the distant sounds of taps and twenty-one gun salutes. 

In the evening we journey back to Arlington where we visited the U.S. Marine Corp Memorial, the statue of the flag raising on Iwo Jima.  After sharing some insight with the students about the individuals who made up the statue, we could look at the memorial from a different light.

While visiting this statue, we were presented with an interesting teaching moment.   There was a news crew from a local ABC TV affiliate asking people to comment on the events of the day surrounding the Edward Snowden and the revealing of classified information.   He had just been indicted on espionage charges and the question was; do you believe this to be a matter of a whistleblower or a traitor?    Although our opinions were that of our own, it generated great discussion and debate on the buses as we moved to our next stop.     Unofficially, the students were split in their opinion; 1/3 felt whistleblower, 1/3 traitor, and 1/3 could go either way.  I'm so proud of these students.