My once in a lifetime trip

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A couple weeks ago, I went on the Levy County Safety Patrol Annual Trip to Washington D.C. All the Safety Patrols had lots of fun.
I was with the Williston Safety Patrols. My mom was really proud of me and my brother, Glynn, who was part of the first Williston Elementary Safety Patrols.
We went from June 20-24. We had four buses from Levy County, and out of that Williston had two buses alone, Bus “One” and Bus “Two.”
Bus One’s Head chaperone was Mrs. Lisa Posteraro, the Williston Safety Patrol Advisor, and her helper on that bus was Levy County Sherriff SRO was Deputy Grant Sandlin.
On Bus Two, it was Mrs. Joelene Vining and Mr. Frank McKoy. All of the chaperones were amazingly helpful. My chaperones were Mr. David and Mrs. Debra Osteen. They had five kids for the entire trip to take care of, me, Janet de la Cruz, Sabrina Martinez, Patterson Markham and Kelby Osteen. They were awesome.  Each bus had a tour guide. I don’t know what Bus One’s was but Bus Two’s tour guide was Hopi Acherbauch. She was hilarious.
On Monday, we [the Safety Patrols and chaperones] were on our way to the Holiday Inn Express that we were staying at in Springfield, Virginia. We took stops at the rest stops in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. Meanwhile, when we were on the bus, everyone was playing on their DSs, texting, playing games, and making people laugh.
On Tuesday, our first day of touring, everyone went to take a group picture at the Grant Memorial. Now it is time to go our separate ways. First, Bus Two went to the gate of the Capitol Building and talked about it with Hopi. It was so cool to actually see the Capitol Building and the statue on top of it so up close. After that, we went to Arlington National Cemetery. It felt so patriotic being that close to people who died fighting for your freedom and the life that you have now. At the cemetery, we saw the ceremony of the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns. It was a very cool site. We also saw the John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame. Did you know that the Eternal Flame is supposed to be a symbol of his spirit, meaning that his body may be gone but his spirit surely isn’t.  After that, we saw the Lincoln Memorial. On the back of his head, it looks like he has another face. It has a nose, mouth, and eyes. The sculptor says that he did not mean for that to happen. We also saw the Korean War Memorial. There are nineteen statues of men who are dressed like they are in a rice patty and seem like they are talking to each other and walking into the wind. After that, we went to the Vietnam Memorial. This meant a lot to me because my step-dad was in the Air Force and fought in Vietnam. Then, we went to the Albert Einstein memorial. As part of a tradition, the Williston Safety Patrols struck a pose for a picture. Then, we went to the Jefferson Memorial. It was so cool. Did you know that in his left hand he has the Declaration on Independence and that the statue is 19-feet tall? Then, we had a photo op at the White House. While we were there, Hopi told us that on September 14 in 1812 the White House was burned down. The last thing we witnessed was the Marine Sunset Review at the Iwo Jima Memorial. It was awesome and also, very sad, especially when they played taps. Did you know that out of the six men that raised the flagpole, three survived? That day was awesome and so much fun.
On Wednesday, we went to the National Law Memorial. We found the names of a couple local officers like David W Moss, Chad A Reed, etc., who died in the line of duty. It meant so much to me because finding David W. Moss’s name was really special because he worked for Williston Police Department and that is where my mom works as the “Evidence Custodian.” After that we went on the Metro. It was so much fun. We went under the Potomac River. Then, we went to the National Cathedral. It was so cool seeing the 200+ stain-glass windows. The next stop was to the Holocaust Museum. There we saw “Daniel’s Story.” It was a story of a young boy who was a Jew who was 11 when the Holocaust occurred. It was super sad. After that, we went to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. It felt like such an honor to be allowed into the building where America’s money is made. The next stop was the National Museum of Natural History. It was awesome to walk through the Hall of Mammals and the Ice Age Hall. The elephant in the Rotunda Dome was so cool. And we saw the Hope Diamond. It is said to bring bad luck but all it has brought to the Smithsonian was good luck. The day felt so awesome.
On Thursday, the patrols and their chaperones were allowed optional touring time at some of the Smithsonian Museums. First, we toured Mount Vernon. It was so cool to see the chair that George Washington sat in. The entire group was dropped off at the Air and Space Museum. It was so cool to learn about air and spacecraft. After that we went to the American Indian Museum. It was fun learning about one of my many heritages. Then, we went to the museum of American History. It was cool to learn about the Revolutionary War and the see the REAL First Ladies dresses that they wore for their husband’s inaugurations all the way from Martha Washington to Michelle Obama (1776-2009). That’s 233 years long. WOW! After the American History Museum, we went to the Natural History Museum. There we saw a lot more stuff than we did on Wednesday. After touring our last stop in D.C., we got picked up at the Natural History Museum.
On Friday, it was time to go home. We had to get up at like 4:45 to leave at around 5:30. Again we took rest stops in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. This time we took a rest stop in Florida. When we got back to Bronson Elementary School, we said goodbye to all of our friends found our parents said goodbye one more time and headed for a great summer.
I would just like to thank Mrs. Lisa for being a great teacher and Safety Patrol Advisor. I would also like to thank the Levy County Sherriff’s Department for sending the SROs (School Resource Officers), Mrs. Joelene Vining for being a great head chaperone, Mr. and Mrs. Osteen for being my chaperones. And I would also like to thank my parents for allowing me to go on this trip. I had such a fun time. I want everyone to have a safe and happy summer!
Samantha VelDink is the daughter of Jim and Gail Brown.