It just hit me. Right out of nowhere. It is almost May, 2008. Somehow, from somewhere, a memory came floating back into my mind's forefront... so I thought I would share it with you.
It was May, 1968. I was in my third year of teaching seventh and eighth grade in a Catholic elementary school n a Cleveland suburb. My homeroom... one half of the eighth grade... along with the teacher of the other eighth grade, with our combined 88 students (class size was 44 kids each)... and three sets of parents (six total) were going on a "eighth grade field trip." How fun to end the school year on such a positive note !
I was 24 at the time... a real puppy now that I think of it. So... away we went... two chartered busses... leaving from Cleveland, Ohio... and heading for Washington, DC.
Our first stop was Gettysburg. We visited the hallowed grounds of the battlefield, and toured the monument sites, at once marvelling and being saddened by what had happened there.
Then... on to DC. When we finally got to Washington, DC... we were met by "history in the making." Washington, in many ways, looked like a flashback to Gettysburg. It was like an armed camp.
Tanks, armored personnel carriers, Army troops with bayonets drawn... EVERYWHERE ! Protesters... tens of thousands of them, sight-seers, the local citizenry, and all of the government employees who worked in the Capital of our Country... .
Just about every single federal building was either surrounded or being patrolled by government tanks or heavily-manned HumVees... laden with soldiers. Our two bus-loads of thirteen year-old kids, six of their parents, and their two teachers... myself and the other eighth grade teacher... we tried to tour one of the federal buildings... I think it was the Treasury Building.
When we got there... again... it was like straight out of the movies. There was a short ledge. It was even with the second-floor window ledges that surrounded the Treasury Building. Standing on top of that ledge... were shoulder-to-shoulder armed soldiers with bayonets-drawn.
It was something all of us remember till this day... my students... their six parents, and we two teachers.
Today there are many who are against the war in Iraq... and want very badly to bring our honored men and women, husbands and wives, children and parents... home from Iraq. With all that going on... I could not help but remember a time gone by... a truly hysterical time... when our country was at war... with Vietnam... and seemingly also... at war with itself.