May 18, 2009

Tours, Tours and More Tours!

It's been a busy couple of weeks in the touring business. I've been tied up with tours at least three days a week and it's going to get even more hectic this week through my last day on June 19. I had a student ask me last week if I ever get tired or bored with it. The answer, unequivocally, is NO. Even though I go to see the same sights day after day, week after week, every time I go it's with a different group, so I'm seeing the sights through different eyes. Let me give you a couple of examples.

Last week, I was part of a 6-bus move of over 300 students and chaperones from Connecticut. As student groups go, they were pretty good, at least the ones on my bus. No major behavior problems, although there were a couple of them who were a bit "bouncy" -- always wanting to run or jump and talking constantly. That kind of goes with the territory, though, when you're dealing with 13/14-year-olds. As a tour guide, you have to go into a bit more history with students, such as talking about the anti-war movements of the '60s-'70s when we go to the Vietnam War Veterans Memorial or what it was like in this country during World War II when we go to that memorial. Sometimes the students are interested, but sometimes they just want to take pictures and move on. Every once in a while, though, I see something or am asked a question that tells me they actually "get it"! While at the WWII memorial with the CT group, I saw one boy go over to an older man wearing a WWII Veteran hat, speak with him and shake his hand. I asked the boy afterwards what he had done. He told me that they've been learning about the war in school and were told that if they ever see a veteran of any kind (but especially those who served in a war) US, to go up and thank them for their service to our country. How many 14-year-old boys do you know who would have the courage to do that, to go right up to a stranger that way? How many adults do you know who would do it? I told that young man that I was very proud to have him in my group and that he should be proud of himself for his actions. It was a moment I will long remember!

Over Mother's Day weekend (Saturday and Monday), I lead a group of senior citizens on a tour. We visited the same places I go with the students, but I clearly saw everything from a different point of view with the seniors. Not only did they know the history of all the wars, I had 3 WWII veterans in the group, one from the Korean War and one from the Vietnam War. The latter stopped along the wall of the Vietnam Memorial to "visit" a couple of his buddies. All of these years later, he still was emotional about losing them. Another memorable moment to store away.

Do I ever get tired of leading tours around DC? Sure I do! I'd be lying if I said I didn't. But it's a physical tired from all the walking, getting in and out of the bus, climbing up Capitol Hill and walking around Arlington National Cemetery with all its hills. At the end of the day, I hop on the Metro to head home and I collapse. Sometimes I doze off and people are kind enough to wake me when we get to my stop at the end of the line. Yes, it's very tiring being a tour guide!

Do I ever get bored from going to the same places over and over. NEVER! I take groups to see our national memorials, monuments, museums, landmarks, etc. I've lived in the DC area my entire life and I still get chills every time I look at the Lincoln Memorial...or see the U.S. Capitol lit up at night...or run my hand along a name at the Vietnam Wall...or hear Taps played during a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. These are the places that remind me how grateful I am to be an American and to live in this wonderful country! I hope that everyone reading this will take the opportunity sometime to visit these landmarks so you can feel the same way, too.

God bless America!

1 comment:

  1. Love. This. Post.
    How amazing it must have been to witness the 14 year old young man, shake the hand of a veteran. Truly, this is a good sign of who we are as a nation!
    I am so pleased you found touring, it is perfect for you! The fact you don't take it for granted, is all the more special!!!
    Love ya!