My name is Madison Heffron and I am from Lebanon, Indiana which is about 30 minutes north of Indianapolis. I am currently a junior at Marian University where I am majoring in Business Management with a concentration in Human Resources and play Volleyball.
The first Saturday in D.C. started at 6:00 a.m. for Kimberly Buskrik. She woke up early and ran a 5K race had a top5 finish, no big deal! The rest of us met up at 9:00 a.m. outside of Thurston Hall where we began our full day tour and each drew a slip of paper out of a hat, but we could not open until instructed to do so. We then made our way to the metro and got off at Union Station. Here, some of us were instructed to open the slips of paper we had received at Thurston Hall and read them aloud to the group. Each slip of paper had a short historical background and some fun facts about each stop along our walking tour. At Union Station we first learned that it opened in 1908 and was designed by the architect Daniel Burnham, and that servs as a “gateway to the city.” We also discussed the ideas for the Station and the architect’s inspirations.
Leaving Union Station, we headed toward the Capitol Building, stopping to appreciate the statue of Christopher Columbus positioned outside the station. It was here that I read my script to the group, “So, why is this statue place HERE in front of Union Station? When Union Station opened in 1908 remember that it was the “gateway to the city.” People coming to D.C. were arriving by trains. Flight wasn’t invented yet and the large scale production line manufacturing of cars didn’t really start till 1914. So unless people were coming by horse, they arrived on by train. So who else would you put at the gateway to the city for travelers to see when they arrived but the statue of the person the city is named after. Remember that D.C. stands for District of Columbia and Columbia comes from Columbus! The statue was also designed by Daniel Burnham, the architect of Union Station.”
We then walked towards the Library of Congress. Before we went explored the building, we stopped and had the chance to learn that the Library of Congress has over 15 million items, 10,000 added per day, and has 838 miles of bookshelves! We then entered the Library of Congress and it was INCREDIBLE. The books on display were incredible and the inside of the building was amazing with the walls and ceilings covered with astonishing art.
After leaving the Library of Congress, we headed to the Smithsonian Botanical Gardens where we saw a wide variety of plants from all different climates. Following the Botanical Gardens, we took pictures on a set of steps overlooking the Capitol building and headed to the National Gallery at Art for lunch and explored some exhibits
The final stop of the day was at the Holocaust Museum. The main exhibit starts in the early 1930s and finished with the liberation of the camps in 1945. The exhibit contained pictures, videos, and testimonies from Holocaust survivors. For me, the experience was heartbreaking, but very impactful.
After leaving the Holocaust Museum, the group headed back to the dorms in waves, rested, and then headed out to dinner in smaller groups. Once everybody was back from dinner some of us ended our night with a very intense ping-pong tournament!
Overall today was an incredible day! I am very thankful that the whole group had the opportunity to experience so much of D.C. together. I am also grateful for the opportunity to participate in the Red Cross Collegiate Leadership Program. I have already learned so much about myself and the ways in which I can help others. I cannot wait to see what the rest of the trip has to offer!