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Student 'Memorial Voices' Trip to Washington, D.C.

Tue, Nov 19th, 2013

Over the 2013 Veterans Day weekend, students from Susan Fletcher's Research Skills class visited Washington, D.C. as a part of the annual Memorial Voices trip. This year's trip marked the fifth year. Students visited various memorial sites and museums around the nation's capitol.

Seventeen students went, and many talked about the impact the trip had on them. The students encountered a number of veterans at the different memorials and said the personal stories they heard were "not something you would ever read in a textbook." One vet shared his experience in Special Forces, working with K9 "super dogs." This story prompted the class to do some additional research to learn more about this Army program.   

At the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial, one veteran talked about the lack of respect Vietnam vets received when they returned home. The students also learned that, in addition to the number of soldiers killed in any conflict, a number of veterans lose their life after returning home due to mental health issues, drugs and suicide.

The group visited the Holocaust Museum, which they said was "scary and sad," and included a room filled with shoes recovered from the camps, which reminds viewers to remember the individuals lost.

Sunday, students split up into smaller groups and visited museums, and between all of them hit just about every Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C.  Those who visited the Botanical Garden were impressed with the beauty, and loved the warmth! The Hope Diamond impressed the group at the Natural History Museum. A group also visited Ford's Theater to see the site of President Lincoln's assassination and saw the actual gun used to shoot the President.

Monday morning the entire group traveled to Arlington National Cemetery. Most went to the ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and had the honor of seeing President Obama speak and lay a wreath at the Tomb. A few students were not able to get in to see this ceremony, but while walking around outside, some veterans of Iraq suggested they go see Section 60. Section 60 is for veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. According to the students, this was a very emotional experience, as many people were sitting at grave sites, visiting their lost loved one. Looking at the tombstones, the students realized some of the veterans buried here were younger than they are, and some had died very recently. The students were affected by the sheer size of the cemetery; "the graves are as close together as they can be, and they go on as far as the eye can see in every direction." Except in Section 60, they could see where the graves end and see the spaces waiting for the next soldiers lost.

Several programs are represented in the class, and the students said before the trip they didn't talk to each other much. While on the trip, the students talked each evening about their experiences. Following the trip, the Research Skills class is working on a project to interview a veteran or currently active service member.

For more photos from the trip, see the Hocking College Flickr page.