WHS students take 'trip' to D.C.

Rebekah Freeman (in cap) explains to fellow Wabash High School students various aspects of the Abraham Lincoln statue (portrayed by Matt Jones) at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Photo by Emma Rausch

By Joseph Slacian

Members of the Wabash High School junior class, along with a few members of the school’s sophomore class, toured Washington, D.C. earlier this year.

On Wednesday, May 3, the rest of the WHS student body was able to experience the trip, thanks to a living museum, a series of vignettes staged in the school’s library by those who took the trip. The program was part of the school’s Artist Lecture series, according to Jeanie Cooper, a member of the series committee.

“We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if the kids did something about their D.C. trip?’” she said. “And the kids were really concerned that if they just did a travelogue, the (other students) wouldn’t really be interested.

“They were talking and talking and kicking around ideas, that it just kept coming up that they loved the Holocaust Museum so much, and the hands-on experience they had there, that they wanted these kids to experience it. Thus, the living museum.”

Students attending the event viewed vignettes of various attractions in D.C. Along the way, they could answer a series of trivia questions based on the various displays.

The museum began with Olivia Hipskind greeting guests while showing off a journal she created based on the trip.

They then were able to view the various displays, ranging from the newest monument, the Martin Luther King Memorial, to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial – complete with the names of Wabash County residents who lost their lives in the war – to Arlington National Cemetery – including the John F. Kennedy gravesite and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Lincoln Memorial, Mount Vernon, the Smithsonian Institute and the Holocaust Museum.

There was a display featuring the street performers that could be found around the city, as well as a display in which students could recreate the flag raising by the U.S. Marines on Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima. A display also featured the U.S. Capitol and the legislative branch of government.

Hipskind said she liked the bonds she made with her fellow classmates during the trip.

“I already knew most of the students, but while we were there it allowed more time to talk to the people,” she said.

As for the trip itself, she said Arlington National Cemetery was her favorite.

“It was very humbling,” she said.

Ben Hewitt manned a vignette that featured the 9-11 Memorial near the Pentagon.

He said he enjoyed “experiencing a new, big city, since Wabash is not that big. I liked being able to see the city and all the memorials it had to offer.”

Rebekah Freeman’s vignette featured the Lincoln Memorial. Matt Jones, dressed in white suit, with white make-up on his place, sat in a chair replicating the statue of President Abraham Lincoln located in the memorial.

She dispelled some of the myths about the memorial.

“One is that Lincoln was buried in the Lincoln Memorial,” she said. “He is not. He’s buried in Illinois. Another is that he’s signing A and L for his initials. But he’s not. His right hand, which is open, isn’t in the shape of an L. Add to that, the sculptor didn’t know sign language when he carved the statue.

“The third myth we learned about is that the Lincoln Memorial and the Robert E. Lee Home in Arlington Cemetery are pretty much in a straight line from each other. You can actually see the memorial from the cemetery. Some people think that because Lincoln is in a straight line from Robert E. Lee’s home in Arlington, that the sculptor carved Robert E. Lee’s face in the back of Lincoln’s head. Which, if you think about it, doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense.”

A display honoring the Holocaust Museum featured photos from the museum, as well as a pile of shoes, which replicated the room of shoes worn by those who were put to death in the gas chambers in Nazi concentration camps.

Austin Wieland discussed the museum with camp, citing the number of people who died in the concentration camps.

“It was really need to be able to experience the museum and witness the stuff in it,” he said. “I believe everyone should go to experience it at least once.

“It was emotional and stuff, but you really learn about what happened. It’s pretty cool to learn what happened and see what happened.”

Posted on 2017 May 09