On Holding Forth

The end of the “regular” DC guiding season is (thankfully) upon us as students complete the school year and head out for their summer adventures.

I spent this final week  with fifty Midwestern 8th-graders who were smart and well mannered which is a nice though somewhat rare combination.

Tuesday evening we walked some of the memorials on the west mall, including WWII and Lincoln.  While the Memorials are by choice both staid and dignified, there is always a feeling of excitement and awe at the point where you first glimpse the distant granduer of the Lincoln Memorial from the 17th street aspect of WWII.

It is one of those sights that is forever amazing, epic even.

Later in the week we were at Mount Vernon and as we toured I asked one of the students what had impressed him the most about Washington, D.C. “The Museum of American History”, he replied.  I followed up by asking him what he liked the most there. “The huge trains in the basement.”

His answer inspired me to wax eloquent (rather smartly,  I thought) for two or three minutes, as we walked,  about the importance of steam power in the growth and development of the US.

He listened patiently and then said, with that deadpan look of complete disinterest that only an 8th-grader can summon up:

“I was just trying to figure out how they gott’em in there.”


1 Comment

  • Geoff McNamara says:

    Eric – that locomotive was placed on its tracks at that sopt BEFORE the building was erected. I remember my Dad telling me about that while they were building the museum whwn I was a kid. I love that museum and that room – that locomotive especially (partly because of that story). As you can understand, I first saw that locomotive after my Dad had told the story and I was struck senseless when I stood next to it as a small boy – it dwarfed everything in the room and was shear unadulterated power in my mind. Tanks for the photo.

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