During fall break, I went to Washington D.C. with some of my colleagues. It was a fun trip! In four days, we visited Mount Vernon (the home of George Washington), the Arlington Cemetery, the Smithsonian Museums ( Air and Space, American Indian, Natural History, American history, Art), the U.S. Capital (Library of Congress, Supreme Court, Botanical Gardens, Archives), and we also visited some monuments and memorials (Washington Monument, The White House, WWII, Vietnam, and Korean War Memorials, Lincoln, Roosevelt, MLK, and Jefferson Memorials). There is also subway in Washington D.C.! Of course we took the time to experience that. This is an aspect of American Culture! Below are some places which I think best stand for American history.
Mount Vernon: George Washington’s Home
We know that Washington was a military leader that lead his troops to defeating Britain. He was elected the first president of United States. We also know that he set an example for the following presidents that no president should serve more than two terms. But we fail to understand how admirable he is. When he defeated Britain, his influence was so great that his general suggested he should be a king. Yet he willingly handed over his power to the civil government and he refused to serve for the third term. No man with great influence before him ever willingly gave up his power.
There are two special places that I need to introduce inside Arlington Cemetery: the tomb of John F. Kennedy and the tomb of unknown soldier. Kennedy was a beloved president who was assassinated during his term. When we came to his tomb, everyone was notably quiet and showed great respect to him. I could sense that kind of respect came from people’s hearts. At the tomb of the unknown soldier, I saw a sentinel walk back and forth in front of the tomb. Lots of people sat or stood around the small plaza quietly. We also found a place to sit down. At first I didn’t know what we were looking at. Then two other soldiers showed up and held a ceremony of changing the guards. After completing the ceremony he declared the Arlington Cemetery was going to close. Frankly speaking, I don’t think the ceremony was impressive. But the American people spontaneously showed respect to soldiers who had passed in war which was impressive to me.
There are so many memorials in Washington D.C. We visited the World War II Memorial, the Vietnam War Memorial, and the Korean War Memorial. What impressed me most is the Vietnam Memorial. It’s so simple, just names on a wall. Yet, there were so many people that visited that place. I saw a veteran sitting on a wheelchair. He silently stared at the names on the wall. I was surprised when I saw a young man say to him, “Thank you for your service” when passing him. From this small moment, I inferred that American people are a bit more patriotic than we Chinese are. Everyone was very quiet there. We didn’t take pictures. Our tour guide told us some veterans have become emotional when they saw Chinese visitors there.
We also went to see some original documents of The United States, the Declaration of Independence and America’s Original Constitution. Lots of people were there. They close the building at 5:00 pm. We were very lucky to have arrived on time! They didn’t allow us to take pictures inside the building. It never occurred to me that American people consider the “Declaration of Independence” a great treasure.
Hi, my name is Zhongcheng Yang. I am a physics teacher. I have taught AP physics at Beijing Royal School for more than three years. But now I am in America! Thanks to Mr. Wang for giving me this precious opportunity to study at NCSU. My specialty here is New Literacy and Global Learning. I am interested in the American middle and high school systems, I want to learn more about that.