By John Staak
During the week of April 10-16, the Regina High School senior class journeyed to the nation’s capital.
The annual trip to Washington, D.C. began with a 16-hour bus ride, including a stop in Shanksville, Penn., to see the memorial dedicated to United Airlines Flight 93 passengers and pilots who died on Sept. 11, 2001. The seniors stayed the night in Gettysburg and, the following day, toured the battlefield of the bloodiest battle in American history. After a trip to the National Zoo, the seniors were then taken to the 4-H center in Chevy Chase, Md., where they stayed the remainder of the trip.
That night, the senior class took a twilight tour of the World War II, Vietnam Veterans, Korean, Lincoln and Jefferson memorials. “You see the monuments on TV and in the paper, but you don’t really appreciate them until you see them up close and in person,” said senior Matt Edeker.
The following day included trips to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, the Newseum (a museum centered around the history of media), the U.S. Capitol building, and several Smithsonian Institution museums. The seniors also met with Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and were able to ask him several questions. “It’s always a pleasure to meet our elected officials. He did a pretty good job of answering our questions,” said senior Kelly Arndt. An evening baseball game between the Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies concluded the day.
The next morning, the seniors attended Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the largest Catholic church in the United States. Mass was celebrated by the Father Vito Buonanno, director of pilgrimages. Afterward the seniors toured the enormous interior of the basilica, an area capable of containing 6,000 people. Next was a visit to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, an establishment dedicated to promoting human dignity and the confrontation of hatred.
The final day of the trip was spent at Arlington National Cemetery, the nation’s largest military cemetery. The seniors and Regina activities director Chet Wisniewski were able to visit the final resting place of his son, David Wisniewski. David died in service to his country on July 2 in Afghanistan. “It was a hard experience seeing a father visit his son’s gravesite for the first time (since the funeral), but it helps you understand the price of freedom,” said senior Andrew Schnoebelen.