Thursday, June 28, 2012

June 28, 2011

Day 4

By Tuesday, the time change was starting to get to me.

7:44 a.m. This sleep cycle is whacking me out. I didn’t even feel like breakfast this morning. I mean, I’m not used to French toast at 6:45 a.m. I’m barely awake!

This day’s touring was much shorter than that of Day 3.
On the way, we passed the original headquarters of GEICO. Raise your hand if you knew GEICO was an acronym. Yeah, me neither. It stands for “Government Employees Insurance Company.” Oh, and they really do keep a pet gecko mascot. He’s the reason they starting running the “caveman” commercials—the gecko got lost, and they felt it was wrong to do gecko commercials without, well, the gecko. But it all ended happily, because the gecko was found, and now they’ve gone back to gecko commercials.

7:55 a.m. Washington has 67 Starbucks! One for every square mile!

Our first stop for the day: Arlington National Cemetery, and its additional memorials. I believe this was, for me, the most sobering memorial we visited.
(This memorial honors all the women who have served in our armed forces.)
(This is the beautiful home of General Robert E. Lee.)
(This is the Eternal Flame and the final resting place of Pres. John F. Kennedy, Mrs. Jackie Kennedy Onassis, and two children that died as infants. The flame is there, but the sunlight kind of glares it out.)

We then were privileged to watch the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This is a very solemn, dignified ceremony.  I must say that, while I already held the soldiers in this division with high respect, seeing them keep watch in full uniform in the 90+ degree heat raised my respect several bars higher.
(The current guard.)
(The sergeant in charge of switching the soldiers arrives.)
(The new guard, in the foreground.)
(He checks his gun, inside and out.)
(He checks every detail of his uniform.)

(And he’s left in place.)

In the summer, they change every hour, and in the winter, they change every half hour.

9:45 a.m. Changing of the Guard, Tomb of the Unknowns, Arlington National Cemetery. Freedom…isn’t free, is it?

Our second, and last, stop for the day: the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial.

Here is where I should be ashamed of myself. There were so many things to photograph here, that I sort of just copped out on the camera. The only thing I wanted a picture of was the statue of Fala, Pres. Roosevelt’s faithful Scottish Terrier.
Truthfully, though, this memorial had a lot of neat symbolism. The special thing about this memorial is that it’s the only one in D.C. that is completely handicapped-accessible. Since Pres. Roosevelt himself was confined to a wheelchair due to polio, the architects knew that he would have appreciated this accommodation. There are several different sections to the memorial: each one is dedicated to one of his four terms as president. If you ever go to D.C, this is one memorial you don’t want to miss.

11:14 a.m. It is so blame hot! And Dani wasn’t kidding when she said planes fly into Ronald Reagan [Airport] every 90 seconds. They are nonstop—and the helicopters, too.

By 1:00, it was time to return to our work for the day. First on the list: Bill Writing Workshop, otherwise known as “what I considered the hardest workshop yet.”

This day, we actually wrote a Congressional bill.

One that looked just like the bills our state and national senators and representatives write. ARE WE NOT IMPRESSIVE?!

Okay, maybe it was a lot simpler than the “real” bills. Seriously, though, if I learned anything from CWF, it’s that lawmaking is not child’s play. You have to learn to compromise with the other people in the committee over ideas and wording. It was like torture for me to stay seated and refrain from yelling out what I thought was the perfect wording. Believe me, it’s hard when I’m so picky about grammar and spelling and punctuation. You also have to learn to narrow down what your particular problem(s) are, and then you have to figure out how to specifically state your problems and your solutions.

This is the basic format for a congressional bill:

“CWF Resolution 14.S
Resolved by the House of Citizenship Washington Focus that…
and; Whereas…
and; Whereas…
therefore be it Resolved that…
and be it Further; Resolved that…
and be it Finally; Resolved that…”
I was quite relieved to find that all we had to do was fill in the “skeleton,” because I had this notion that laws were written with grand, flowing language that the common man couldn’t read. That, of course, turned out to be false.  So, we came out of this workshop with a rough draft bill. It would be refined in the Government Committee’s meeting that followed Workshop.

1:31 p.m. NuVal?

Yes, NuVal. This is a system that gives different food items points based on their nutritional value. The higher the points=the more nutritional value. One of the guys in our group brought it up, and after some deliberation, we all decided to implement it into our bill.

(And here, I will take the liberty to say that when the NuVal system was employed at our local Price Cutter earlier this year, I felt a small degree of superiority because I knew about NuVal 9 months earlier than Price Cutter’s customers.)

But I digress. With the knowledge that I had just helped write a bill-that-would-become-a-fake-law, I moseyed on over to committee meeting with my head held high. This day was when we put the pedal to the metal. We only had this day and the day after to write and finalize the newsletter, so I picked a layout and started writing my assigned piece, while the other girls carried out their marching orders. Next, we had a little playtime. I didn’t actually play very much myself. When I look back on it now, I will admit that I might have been a bit of a spoilsport about the Derby. I’ve always been bad at games that required running, so I kind of chickened out on most everything. However, I was more than happy to cheer my friends on from the sidelines. After the Derby, we got to practice discussing opposing opinions. Or what I’d term “polite arguing.” In Town Hall, all the kids split into groups and discussed issues relevant to our age and current worlds. I was fortunate to be in a group where we almost all agreed on everything and if we didn’t, we shared our differences quite nicely, I thought. I understood from others, though, that some groups weren’t so lucky. (I’m talking things like kids endorsing teen drinking and smoking. Could someone PLEASE explain to me where my generation missed the point?! Never mind.) 

6:00 p.m. Derby was boring. But Workshop and Committee were great. I understand writing a bill so much better now. We got a lot written in committee. And Town Hall isn’t as bad as I thought it it’d be.

Dinner was excellent, which was good, because we would need our strength for our last item of business for the day……the ACTION PLAN. Well, maybe dinner wasn’t that important, but the action plan was the hardest brain-work I did all week. Honestly. Even more than the bill-writing. You know what made it worse?

Two-thirds of the kids, including yours truly, didn’t have a clue how to create an action plan.

For starters, I’m pretty sure my chaperones had explained an Action Plan during the trip orientation meetings held many months prior, but I still didn’t completely understand the purpose or the process.  Let me tell you how it worked.

All the Missouri kids headed over to the Minnesota Room with our chaperones. There we split up into regions; in my group, the Southwest Region, there were about 14-15 kids. Each region picked some type of community service project that everyone would, in some way, help with. Since the tornado that ravaged Joplin was so recent, my region decided to find a way to help with that. Choosing a project was basically the easiest part. What was really difficult, and what took us all 3 weary hours to accomplish was deciding exactly how, when, and where we would do the project. Obviously, somebody had to be in charge. That ended up being delegated to the kids closest to Joplin: Newton County and McDonald County. (Well, and technically it would include Jasper County, but we didn’t have anyone from there.) Eventually, we decided this: the England family from a Newton County club had suffered a loss in the tornado and it was affecting them financially. We would raise money for them by holding Change Wars at the Newton and McDonald County fairs, and then we would do a bake sale. Emily Paul took charge of the McDonald County Change War; Jesse Shilling, Victoria and Madelaine Geibler took charge of the Newton County Change War; and I headed up the bake sale. But that wasn’t all. This very specific idea morphed into a bigger idea: we would start a SW MO Disaster Fund for 4-H families, and all the counties would hold fundraisers to help “fund the fund.”  It sounds really nice on paper, doesn’t it? I was afraid we’d never decide before curfew. After the Action Plan, we had Capitol Hill orientation, so that when we went to the Capitol the next day, we would look, sound, and act very official. This was, of course, very important.

This day was the day that we did the most work, I believe. Just writing it all out makes me tired, so I imagine we all slept well that night.

I already mentioned Day Four’s lesson, but I believe it bears repeating:
Freedom isn't free, is it?

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