On the bus with the Missouri Youth Tour
by Jeff Joiner
Day 1: Saturday,
Youth Tour delegates (from left) Colt Lackey, Lisa Martin and Adam
Smoot visit the grave site of President John F. Kennedy which is topped
with an eternal flame. The delegates visited Arlington National Cemetery
on their first full day of touring the nation's capital.
There were a few
grumbles and a lot of sleepy eyes at 6:30 a.m. as the Missouri Youth Tour
delegates began trickling into a Jefferson City banquet room for breakfast
on Saturday following an orientation the night before. The 2001 Rural
Electric Youth Tour to Washington, D.C., had begun.
The drive to St.
Louis passed quickly as the delegates got to know their bus mates better.
Our first snag occurred when TWA gave 12 of our seats away to standby
passengers. Three chaperones and nine of the kids took a later flight
into Baltimore, caught shuttle buses and met the rest of the gang at our
hotel in Arlington, Va. No harm done.
We arrived in
Washington, D.C., to gloomy, rainy skies, but that didn't dampen anyone's
After dinner we
headed out for a night tour of the Lincoln Memorial. We also visited the
Korean and Vietnam War memorials. Both monuments are haunting and moving
at night, especially the Korean War memorial which consists of life-size
statues of a platoon of American soldiers crossing a rice paddy.
Day 2: Sunday,
The day dawned
bright and sunny as the delegation boarded buses to travel to Arlington
National Cemetery where we visited President John F. Kennedy's grave.
The students learned that Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, long before
these 17-year-olds were born.
the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns we headed to visit
the museums of the Smithsonian Institute. One day at the Smithsonian was
hardly enough. There's so much to see.
the Missouri kids boarded a ship for a nighttime cruise of the Potomac
River. While the chaperones enjoyed a moonlit night on the top deck, the
delegates spent the evening below deck where the music was loud and the
Where does all
that energy come from?
|On Tuesday morning
the Missouri students visited Mount Vernon, the home of President
George Washington. The delegates enjoyed a beautiful view of Washington's
Monday June 18
Monday is Youth
Day which means all 3,500 delegates spend the morning at a huge pep rally
at the hotel. The delegates learned more about rural electrification and
the political process in Washington. They also had a lot of fun singing
songs, cheering and generally being as loud as possible.
Youth Day activities at the hotel all 3,500 delegates regrouped on Capitol
Hill for another rally. It was a stirring moment as the delegates gathered
on the steps below the brilliant white of the United States Capitol.
Monday night we
went to Camden Yards in Baltimore, Md., where the students got into the
spirit of Major League Baseball.
We all became
diehard Orioles fans, at least for one night, as we watched Baltimore
beat the Toronto Blue Jays. Go team!
Day Four: Tuesday,
and we were back on the buses heading out to Mount Vernon, the home of
George Washington. The delegates enjoyed the beautiful view and took many
photos Hey, mom and dad! Get ready for a big film bill!
The grounds of
Washington's estate are beautiful with fabulous gardens. You can almost
imagine America's first president returning home on horseback and riding
up the path to the house.
After lunch at
Planet Hollywood we toured the National Cathedral. Teddy Roosevelt was
president when they laid the cornerstone of this magnificent building
and they're still working on it!
we treated to a special performance of U.S. Army bands and a rifle drill
team on the Ellipse between the Washington Monument and the White House.
Man, those guys are good!
Tour Director Mike Marsch joined the Missouri delegates Artie Randal
(left) and Greg Patterson, both from Winfield, in celebrating a win
for the Balitmore Orioles over the Toronto Bluejays.
Day Five: Wednesday,
This was one of
the toughest days of the week and one of the most thrilling. We
were all dressed up with lots of places to go!
We all had appointments
with either our elected representatives or their staffs. We split up into
groups by congressional district and toured the Hill while we were waiting
for our meetings. Between touring the Supreme Court building, the Library
of Congress and the Capitol, walking over to Union Station for lunch and
back to the Hill the delegates really pounded the pavement.
But to a delegate
they said it was worth it. After
all these years hearing and reading about Congress it is really something
to see it with your own eyes! And to meet a Congressman or Congresswoman
and ask questions what a privilege!
Tonight we got
back together with the rest of the 3,500 Youth Tour delegates for the
all-states dinner and dance. Funny, but nobody was complaining of sore
feet at the dance.
probably could have danced all night but 10:30 rolled around and they
all turned into pumpkins or at least headed back to their rooms
to pack and then enjoy a pizza party with the Missouri chaperones.
It's late, tomorrow
will be here sooner than we would like. Thursday will bring a long trip
home and sad goodbyes. It's been a long hard week. Everyone is dog tired.
But it's a happy
tired, a wonderful feeling that comes from spending an amazing week making
new friends and seeing spectacular sights.