Fort Worth ISD Gettysburg Trip

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The Trip of a Lifetime FORT WORTH ISD JROTC Honors U.S. Military History


FOREWORD Each spring, selected students who are enrolled

In these pages, you will see and read a firsthand

in the Honors U.S. Military History course, along

account of a remarkable, educational Staff Ride to

with their instructors, have the opportunity to

Gettysburg National Battlefield Park in Pennsylvania

participate in a “Staff Ride.” One of my favorite

and several national memorials in Washington, D.C.

activities of the year, these learning events provide an opportunity for history to come alive for our

This present photographic issue, our first, marks

students through research, exploration, and

the 5th educational Staff Ride of the Honors

experiential learning. Moreover, all participants gain

U.S. Military History course. We’re proud of what

a better understanding of our American history and

we’ve accomplished, the unwavering support at

military heritage.

all levels, and of the dedicated instructors who have researched and endeavored to make FWISD

The Staff Ride is a versatile educational tool and

JROTC Honors U.S. Military History course a premier

educational technique for studying leadership.


It represents a unique and persuasive method of conveying the lessons of the past to present-

Now I invite you to take a peek into the past...

day leadership for current application. Properly

Travel along with our cadets and share their

conducted, these exercises bring to life, on the

experiences and epiphanies at Gettysburg National

very terrain where historic encounters took place,

Battlefield Park and selected Memorials in

examples, applicable today as in the past, of

Washington, D.C.

leadership, tactics and strategy, communications, use of terrain; and, above all, the social, economic,


political, and intellectual aspects of military

Director of FWISD JROTC



0400 23 APR 16 It all began at 0400. My teacher, colleagues, and I arrived at school, checked our materials, and went up to the district to meet with the rest of the crew. At 0500, all of the cadets were briefed on what to expect ahead of time, their behaviors during the entire trip, and then the instructors appointed cadet leadership for the trip. Later on, we loaded the buses, headed for the airport, checked in our bags, and boarded the plane. It was a peaceful 2-hour sleep to Washington D.C. From D.C, we then boarded a bus to Pennsylvania, where we stayed for two days at the Eisenhower hotel.

MIVON ASITA Southwest High School

It was my first time actually getting out of Texas and on a plane, which was very exciting. GUADALUPE JIMINEZ MATA Dunbar High School

Kutztown University history professors Drs. Maria Sanelli and Louis Rodriguez provided unique lectures, lesson plans, and studies about Hispanics in all American conflicts, while our National Park Service (NPS), with its theme “Reconnecting America’s Youth with its National Parks,” provided dedicated Rangers and remarkable learning opportunities for our cadets and students. Briefings on the Battle of Gettysburg by Dr. Sanelli, who is Director of Kutztown’s Frederick Douglass Institute, provided briefing on racial and ethnic minorities in the American Civil War, while Dr. Michael Gabriel, also a history professor at Kutztown, focused on socio-economic issues surrounding the Battle of Gettysburg. The students were also joined by Secondary Education in Social Studies majors from Kutztown University who were training to be high school teachers. This event allowed them to train with students and to focus their training on content and methods of teaching history.

1800 23 APR 16

I loved staying at the hotel because it gave me a little bit of a taste of what college would be like, in the sense of being away from home and my family. One afternoon we had a briefing from Dr. Gabriel

One good thing about the trip is that we were given responsibility and a sense of independence. We had to make sure we woke up on time and got dressed in order to start our day earlier than we usually would.

about Northern Civilians in the Gettysburg


Campaign. This overview about the people who

Paschal High School

participated in the battle allowed me to imagine how the civilians felt and how their lives were impacted.

ALEJANDRA HERNANDEZ Polytechnic High School

Reenactors from Virginia’s Co. F, 4th VA Inf. "Grayson's Daredevils" demonstrated for the students a day in the life of a Confederate soldier, highlighting the uniforms and equipment, weapons, medicine and surgery, and camaraderie amongst the members of the unit.

0830 24 APR 16

I now have more respect for the soldiers in the past who went to war at an early age. Back then there were no antibiotics or medicine, so they had to suffer through the pain of battlefield surgery. I now understand the soldiers better and feel more connected to them than I did before this trip.

It’s a whole different experience interacting with history in person, rather than just hearing about it in the classroom or from a textbook. LAUREN CONTRERAS North Side High School

On the first day of our tour, we hiked the Gettysburg Battlefield, which helped me to connect with the soldiers who had to march 35 miles in just 17 hours. Being atop of different hills like Big Round Top and Little Round Top and looking into the tree lines, watching the glint of the cars pass by, a person can imagine the rifles being hit by the sun at just the right angle and knowing that the enemy is closing in. Although we were not under the same pressures as those soldiers or walked as long of a distance, we got to taste a little of their pain and suffering.

LAUREN CONTRERAS North Side High School

1000 24 APR 16

Our tour through the Gettysburg Battlefield helped me understand the experiences of many of the soldiers fighting and for the families living on the land where the battle took place, as well as how the terrain influenced the soldiers’ performance during the three days of the battle.

LEISLEY CRUZ Paschal High School

I could imagine the fields transform from being filled with wheat and vegetables to full of destroyed crops and the bodies of wounded soldiers. MARIA CONTRERAS Diamond Hill-Jarvis High School

This hike helped me put into perspective how far soldiers had to walk. I can’t imagine having to do that with fifty extra pounds of equipment on! Along the hike, we visited the Devil’s Den, which is a ridge strewn with large boulders, south of the town of Gettysburg. Some people say it got its name because so many soldiers died in that location, while others believe it was named the Devil’s Den because of the large boulders that made it an impossible place to farm.


I really enjoyed being escorted by the park rangers and volunteers who have dedicated their lives to learning about the history of Gettysburg in-depth.

Learning from different people who all have differing opinions about things, rather than one teacher briefly going over the subject, made the tour really interesting. ALEJANDRO VAZQUEZ Paschal High School

I liked that we got to walk the battlegrounds, even if we had to walk for over eight miles up and down hills and rough terrain.

I enjoyed visiting the memorials and seeing the actual fish hook formation used by General George G. Meade during the Battle of Gettysburg. We got to see the structures that still stand today and how well they are maintained, despite being visited by millions of people each year.

ALEX OLIVEROS North Side High School

This trip really changed how I viewed the war overall. I had only been looking at it from a soldier-to-soldier view; I never thought about the social groups or the civilian’s point of view. WILLIAM FITZHUGH Western Hills High School

1130 25 APR 16

I learned so much from the tour guides and park rangers about all the different events that occurred on the days of the battle and how people nearby were affected by it.

Farmers had to decide whether to stay on their land and possibly lose their lives, or abandon everything they’d worked for. The Civil War didn’t only affect soldiers. It also greatly impacted the lives of everyday citizens who were just trying to make a living.

GABRIEL PENCE Southwest High School

During the hike we learned about the Slyder family, whose home was right between the Confederate and the Union Armies during the Battle of Gettysburg. Even though the Union Army had warned them that the Confederates were going to destroy their home, they decided to stay. But they changed their minds once they caught a glimpse of the army through the tree line and fear was engraved in them.

After they came back everything was gone. Their well was dry, all their cattle and animals were dead with their carcasses covering the land, and all their crops had been destroyed. They didn’t have any food or water to survive on. We were able to act out some chores that the Slyders had to do, from blacksmithery to building fences, and got to experience how they lived their lives. They had to keep their farm in good shape in order to make some money so they could survive.

LAUREN CONTRERAS North Side High School

The fun activities the tour guides had us do at Slyder’s Farm helped us see how life was lived during that time. My favorite activity was guessing what each part of the pig was used for. I was shocked to find out that the stomach can be used as a balloon or a ball for the kids! It was a good thing that the Slyder family decided to leave; if not, they would have been killed during the battle.

ALEJANDRA HERNANDEZ Polytechnic High School

One of the many sites we visited was the Cyclorama, located inside the Gettysburg National Park Museum and Visitor’s Center. The museum featured an indoor theatre, where we watched an informational film presentation about some of the key events during the Battle of Gettysburg. After the film, canons and gunfire were heard throughout the room, which was surrounded by a giant panoramic painting by Paul Philippoteaux of the battleground scenery. The Cyclorama helped

The Cyclorama was a great way to learn about the

us to imagine what it felt like to be at the battle.

Civil War because I really felt like I was there. The colors changed as the story shifted from day to


night. The setup was very realistic, with real props

North Side High School

that would fade back into the painting.

I felt like I was a soldier in the battle, seeing everyone I know fall and die. At the museum, we also did an information scavenger hunt. One thing I learned was that men in the Civil War had many different types of hats to wear. One was an anti-heat-stroke hat, which you would get wet before you put it on to stay cool while out in the sun.

LAUREN CONTRERAS North Side High School

Abraham Lincoln is said to have been the greatest writer to ever occupy the White House. His immortal address at Gettysburg was finished in the Wills house.

1400 25 APR 16

The Kutztown University students who joined us on the trip answered my questions about college life and what I can hope to expect when I leave home after high school. GABRIEL PENCE Southwest High School

The teacher interns set up an interactive learning environment back at the hotel. They explained different topics we hadn’t learned about yet touring the battlefield, such as the role of Hispanics and women in the Civil War.

WILLIAM FITZHUGH Western Hills High School

I learned about Loreta Velázquez, an immigrant from Cuba. She came to the United States for her schooling and entered the Civil War as a spy for the Confederates. But then she also enlisted as a spy for the Union Army, cross-dressed as a man. She served by the name of Lt. Harry T. Buford for two and a half years, without her husband every finding out, before being arrested for suspicion of being a woman and a spy. She was betraying the Union Army because she only wanted intel from them for the Confederates. I was very surprised and felt proud to be a woman when I learned about Loreta and the other women who served and broke the stereotype of staying home to clean and cook, just waiting around for their husband’s letters.

LAUREN CONTRERAS North Side High School

The last thing we got to see during our trip to Pennsylvania was the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg. It was during this part of the trip that I realized how hard it was back then to identify a deceased soldier. Each soldier had a piece of paper with their name on it in their pocket or pinned to their collar, but with most of the dead left on the ground for several days and with a lot of rain, many of the tags had washed away. Today we tend to believe that all the soldiers were fighting for freedom and rights. Although that may be true, a lot of the soldiers were fighting mainly to earn money to take care of their families.


Students visited the site where Lincoln, America’s heroic Civil War president, gave his Gettysburg Address and forever shaped the nation’s memories.

0845 26 APR 16

At the Soldiers’ National Cemetery, we read actual letters to family and friends and had to figure out which soldier each one belonged to. NIDIA GARCIA Dunbar High School

In Washington D.C., we stayed on the Joint Base

At Arlington National Cemetery, we saw the


headstones of the first African-American Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, along with

We crossed a bridge from Washington to Virginia, where we toured the Arlington National Cemetery and watched the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider.

former presidents and military four-star generals.

MARCO GONZALEZ North Side High School

MIVON ASITA Southwest High School

1400 26 APR 16

I found the cemetery to be very intense because there were so many tombs, row after row, that represented the many people who answered the call of the nation.

ALEJANDRA HERNANDEZ Polytechnic High School

Meeting the veterans and getting to tell them, “Thank you for your service,� meant so much to me. It meant that I was able to show my gratitude towards them in the simplest way.

BRENNA ROSALES Southwest High School

At the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, we were able to watch the changing of the guard ceremony, a routine which is highly honored and is conducted without fail every half hour during the summer, every hour during fall and winter, and every two hours when the park is closed. The impact this experience had on me is that I will always respect and honor our fellow soldiers because of what they did for us. They sacrificed being able to see their loved ones and so much more, to answer the call and serve this country with pride.

MARCO GONZALEZ North Side High School

The soldiers patrol for thirty minutes, taking twenty-one steps at each turn with graceful marching steps and faces. Once the thirty minutes are up, they switch guards and continue, for 24 hours a day, whether raining, snowing, or scorching hot out. ALEJANDRO VAZQUEZ Paschal High School

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier really made me feel gratitude towards the soldiers who sacrificed everything for the nation they so immensely loved. We will always admire those soldiers, even though we don’t know who they are.

ALEJANDRA HERNANDEZ Polytechnic High School

The World War II Memorial was opened to the public on April 29, 2004, to honor the 16 million veterans and soldiers that served and died protecting the world from the tyranny of the Axis Powers. These brave men, whether JapaneseAmerican, African-American, Latino, or White, served their country proudly and are often called the greatest generation because of all that they accomplished.

I saw how much this generation was loved, how much they put on the line to make sure the spark of freedom and hope would never extinguish, and that we as Americans should continue to fight for just causes, like Lincoln did in the Civil War. MARCO GONZALEZ North Side High School

Seeing the Korean War Memorial touched my heart, mainly because the Korean War is known as “the Forgotten War,” but should never be forgotten due to the fact that our fellow Americans sacrificed their lives for people they didn’t even know. I’m half-Korean and it allowed me to have a better understanding of my culture.

BRENNA ROSALES Southwest High School

0830 27 APR 16 I can’t imagine how much work it took to figure out every soldier’s name and time of death for the Vietnam War Memorial wall. Names are still being added to the monument to this day.


Visiting the Lincoln Memorial was one of my favorite experiences of the trip, especially since now I could really understand the meaning behind it. Lincoln was a man of steel and, at the same time, he was compassionate!


Lincoln was dedicated to not quitting and letting the Confederacy become its own country. Even while other people wanted to end the war and just let the Confederacy win, President Lincoln stuck with his belief in keeping this country together.

MARCO GONZALEZ North Side High School

I walked to the Lincoln Memorial feeling like I knew so much about him and his point of view, since we had been studying his Gettysburg Address for the past couple days. I was able to actually feel the meaning behind the memorial.

I think I even memorized his whole speech. ALEJANDRA HERNANDEZ Polytechnic High School

Seeing the development of the civil rights movement from Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s contributions has confirmed to me that our country has been through a lot.

It is now my job to not only educate my generation, but also to lead as a positive role model the same way Lincoln and MLK did. ASAINTI ARMENDARIZ Amon Carter-Riverside High School

I think it was a great idea to start our trip learning about the Battle of Gettysburg and end with the Martin Luther King, JR monument.

This showed us how the events from the Civil War to the Civil Rights movement led to equality for everyone. NIDIA GARCIA Dunbar High School

LASTING IMPRESSIONS I’ve gained empowering knowledge that has

Overall, the trip was really out of this world. I made

changed my overall perspective of the Civil War and

a lot of memories and new friends. One of the most

has made me realize it’s my turn to make a positive

important things was that it pushed me out of my

change on this beautiful earth.

comfort zone.



Amon Carter-Riverside High School

Paschal High School

This trip on its own was a great experience, but

I’ve had numerous memorable learning experiences

we couldn’t help ourselves in making new friends

during my JROTC high school career, but the Military

from other schools. Together we held a type of

History trip has by far taught me the most. Not only

bond that’s not shared with others and we decided

did I learn new things, but now I also understand

to keep it as we came back home. We still keep in

them. I had the amazing opportunity to stand where

touch and have even met up once since, because

history was made.

saying goodbye to them would’ve been like saying goodbye to this amazing trip. I know that what we


have learned and experienced is going to linger with

Paschal High School

us for the rest of our lives.


“I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.” — ABRAHAM LINCOLN

ABOUT FWISD JROTC’S HONORS U.S. MILITARY HISTORY COURSE It has been said that every generation rewrites its history. Its own needs and problems inevitably make it take a fresh look at its own past for light, understanding, guidance, and alternative courses of action. Nowhere is this more evident than in the field of American Military History. To the present generation of Americans faced by complex challenges to their national security, the role that force and military institutions have played in American history becomes of increasing interest and importance. As citizens, leaders, teachers, and educators, it is our duty to motivate young people to be better citizens, to ignite the passion within our future leaders, and to prepare our young people for responsible citizenship, service, and community leadership. Beginning in 2012 with the establishment of the Honors U.S. Military History course, FWISD JROTC has used Civil War battlefields, Texas forts, and national memorials and museums as outdoor classrooms in which to educate. The Military History course lies on the frontier between general history and military art and science. In addition to the three C’s of warfare (causes, conduct, and consequences), this course deals with the confluence and interaction of military affairs with diplomatic, political, social, economic, and intellectual trends in society. The educational Staff Ride remains an important tool for teaching military history, promoting leadership, and advancing leader development and education. The educational journey is a life-long, never-ending adventure and trek, with every turn and bend along the way filled with milestones, new discoveries, knowledge, and excitement. This journey of learning and discovery has myriad pathways; and for a select group of FWISD Honors U.S. Military History students, Gettysburg National Battlefield Park was a recent remarkable destination.

FWISD JROTC COLLABORATIONS We’re proud, too, of our association and collaboration with Veterans National Education Program (VNEP), Kutztown University, and the National Park Service (NPS). Veterans National Education Program is the preeminent nonprofit organization focused on freely providing educational resources to the public and ensuring that our military history is taught and shared by those who have served our great nation in uniform. Kutztown University history professors Drs. Sanelli and Rodriguez provided unique lectures, lesson plans, and studies about Hispanics in all American conflicts, while our National Park Service, with its theme “Reconnecting America’s Youth With Our National Parks,” provided dedicated rangers and remarkable learning opportunities for our students/cadets. A tremendous amount of effort went into the preparation and execution of this staff ride, specifically designed to provide our students/cadets an opportunity to:

• Expand their personal intellectual capacity (social, economic, political, diplomatic, and technological) • Relate military history to contemporary issues • Enhance unit cohesion and bonding by sharing in the collective staff ride experience • Expose students to the dynamics of battle • Appreciate the human dimension... The “face of battle” • Review case studies in leadership • Encourage the study of U.S. military history • Kindle interest in U.S. military and American heritage

Our students are determined, focused, confident, respectful, and prepared to accept the challenges of leadership. History is prologue!



“2016 Gettysburg and Washington D.C. Staff Ride” VIDEO PRODUCED BY JOHN PAPA


Fort Worth Independent School District (FWISD) U.S. Army Cadet Command (USACC) Kutztown University Frederick Douglass Institute National Park Service (NPS) Gettysburg Foundation Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Audie Murphy Chapter Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD) Veterans National Education Program (VNEP) North DFW Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) Texas Trail of Fame Fort Worth East Rotary Mulholland Company


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