By Jack Feldman
For Drake students, the past two days have been one giant speed date with the District of Columbia.
Part of our “getting to know you” process started on Sunday when we all embarked on a journey to find just a few of the many local landmarks in D.C. Sunday was packed with learning experiences, many of them being simple things like reading a map, using the metro, or realizing that no matter which way you face, it’s always toward the cold, petty, unforgiving wind.
On top of the skills I learned to employ on our scavenger hunt, I did learn a lot about the city. D.C. has a vibrant culture and we often forget that without the city’s gravitas and remarkable monuments it is a quirky, fun community that is interesting in its own right. The scavenger hunt was extremely important for me to see D.C. as more than just a static symbol of power, but as a place where people go through daily experiences like anyone else in any other American city.
On Monday, we took a bus tour of the major monuments in D.C. This tour told a far different but equally important story.
What I felt when I saw all of the monuments was the importance of the United States as a single entity, not the individuality of D.C. like in the previous day’s activity. I felt connected to the national pride we hold as Americans and also felt connections to my home state of Illinois. The Lincoln memorial connected me not only to one of my favorite presidents but to my sense of state pride as well. I felt this same connection to Illinois at the WWII memorial and every memorial that represented the states individually. What is absolutely remarkable about the monuments in D.C. is that every connection I made to my home state or to something important to me, someone else was able to simultaneously make the exact same connections to their home and their experiences.
What I learned about D.C. these past two days is that every American who has the opportunity to see the city will be able to attach their own personal stories about America to what they see no matter how diverse. The monuments and the symbolism in D.C. represent us all in a final and singular way, truly giving meaning to the nation’s great seal, E Pluribus Unum. Out of many, one.
Here are a few photos from the monuments tour: