2019 Fort Worth ISD JROTC Staff Ride: Antietam, Harpers Ferry, Mount Vernon, Washington, D.C.

Page 1

We Hold These Truths


April 2019 Honors U.S. Military History Staff Ride ANTIETAM, HARPERS FERRY, MOUNT VERNON, WASHINGTON, D.C.

American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it. JAMES BALDWIN

Introduction It is a fact that the majority of American high school students do not enjoy studying or learning history. Even though students in the majority of American high schools, receive higher grades in history than in other classes, data show that students do not enjoy the way history is taught. History is more than a textbook; nonetheless, for a majority of our students, the study of history is a litany of events and dates to memorize and recite then forget. Not so with the FWISD Honors U.S. Military History Experiential Staff Rides that challenge the knowledge level, expectations and the needs of our students and teachers. Staff Rides are fun-filled experiential history learning opportunities for every participant. Moreover, Staff Rides help JROTC teachers in our mission “motivating young people to be better citizens” while serving (yet exceeding) the academic requirements of public schools and enhancing (while enriching) the military education of JROTC cadets. This Staff Ride to the Washington, D.C. area was interdisciplinary in approach: bringing in aspects of political science,

military culture, international relations, law, literature, loss, art, and philosophy. The experiential Staff Ride model uses immersion to study historical issues, social issues, and contemporary issues in America, while concurrently offering inherent flexibility and versatility for teachers to engage ALL students and their varied interests. Of particular note, while at Antietam National Battlefield Park and while at Harper’s Ferry, cadets were able to contextualize military operations, consider the consequences of warfare and fully appreciate the importance of nonmilitary events to military operations. On each Staff Ride, our cadets explore and dissect our history and military battles from a social, political, economic, moral and intellectual perspective. Developing citizen-leaders using the Staff Ride model requires adjusting the standard pedagogical approach, incorporating designed reflection sessions, outlining specific discussion points and exploring biases, mistakes and myriad opinions from our unique history.

During this Staff Ride and through our myriad reflection sessions, our cadets grew more empathetic and engaged. Discussions and experiences prompted deep deliberations and intellectual growth for our future leaders. Our cadets in the learning environment modeled strong character, worked diligently, behaved, and exuded academic excellence. The questions and discussions were broad and far-reaching, requiring cadets to consider new and different perspectives. During these focused sessions, cadets reasoned about themselves, about their own biases, and about the intersection of their perspectives with others. As you read the essays from selected cadets, especially reflections pertaining to the African American History and Cultural Museum, the National Holocaust Museum and multiple memorials on the National Mall, evidence their growth. Turn the pages and explore the journey, our history…our story…through the wonder, words, and wisdom of our young leaders.


Foreword “Freedom is not Free” resounded from the Battlefield of Antietam, amid John Brown’s Raid at Harper’s Ferry, through the Arlington National Cemetery continuing into the National Museum of African American History and Culture and ending with our experience in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Cadets witnessed first hand emblems of sacrifice, suffering, slavery; heartache, hard-times, hardships, persecution, prejudice, privation. Yet they return realizing that devotion, dedication, discipline; passion, patience, and perseverance can cause them to impact, impress, and improve their community, culture and climate just as those who tread before them. In the essays accompanying the following photos, note introspective reflections and cognitive processing by cadets ascertaining their grasp of history, the impact of history now and the impact of history then. Cadets were challenged to look at what was and assess what is and make a correlation. LTC Crossley says, “History is what is written

and the past is what happened.” FWISD JROTC Staff Ride cadets advantaged the opportunity to clash history with the past first hand. Cadets showed up at 4 a.m. Sunday morning, 28 April 2019, as 25 kilowatt bulbs: some notably flickering, some not burning, some warming up. Yet, based on the reflections, remarks, and responses you will see as much as 100 wattage illuminations of their minds through these pages. Often times writing gets a bad reputation from students... Students understand not its value nor importance. (Honestly speaking, writing often gets a bad reputation from many non-English teachers, as they neither realize nor recognize its value nor importance, as well.) Meanwhile, cadets on this trip were challenged to think, challenged to process, challenged to face the atrocities of history which shaped who we are as a nation as well as who we continually become as a nation.

This 2019 Staff Ride connects History, English (Writing/Reading), Military History, and Cognitive Processing in an experiential fashion that is challenging to replace or duplicate. In this experience, many students had an “AHA” moment. They have read and been taught the textbook version of history, but “history” finally clicked for them on the ground in places where our forefathers and ancestors fought, lived, died. As we talk about writing, the cadets’ textbook understanding of history metamorphed into this raw account of historical events and what those events mean now. As cadets write, we are able to enter a more intimate part of their brain, noting that a piece of them stayed there and a piece of there came back with them here. “If we listen closely, History will tell us where we must go and what we must do!” (LTC Richard Crossley) If we listen closely, History shouts where we have been and whispers where we should go.

MONITA SHARPE North Side High School English Dept. Chair

We Are Connected To The Past We are all connected to the past because of the many events that have changed, shaped and transformed our way of living. We have evidence of this from museums, national cemeteries, battlefields, and national monuments, so we can learn our history and its significance. We are all connected to the past in different ways from our memories. The physical landscape of these battles and the lives impacted connect us to the past where we learn even more than we knew before. We are all connected to the past, if we allow ourselves to connect. John Brown’s Raid played a pivotal role in shaping how people viewed slavery. John Brown was an abolitionist who was against slavery and wanted slaves to revolt against their owners, which inspired him to lead his own slave revolt. John Brown raided Harpers Ferry in which he seized the US Federal Armory, but thirty-six hours

later, he surrendered and was captured by Robert E. Lee. Brown was later tried and executed in Virginia. Many people claim that his raid against Harpers Ferry was successful, yet other people said it was not successful. This particular point connects me to the past in that any idea I may have can turn into something that can change lives and even history. The Battle of Antietam, an important piece of the Civil War, was a significant battle for both the Union and the Confederates. There are different aspects of this battle that stood out to me. The battlefield itself because I never knew that a battlefield could be so expansive. The battlefield contained a lot of history behind it such as the significance of Bloody Lane. The way Bloody Lane connects me to the past is that I put myself into the shoes of both Confederate and Union soldiers enabling me to experience what they went through to complete each objective they had in order to gain victory over each

other. Bloody Lane was the place where the central part of the battle of Antietam occurred and was the bloodiest part of the battle. Bloody Lane connects me by my knowing that I will fight battles and it is important to centralize in order to overcome and be successful. We are all connected to the past, from the Battle of Antietam, the Civil War, and John Brown’s Raid. Each event played a critical part in our nation becoming who we are as individuals and as a unified country. The physical landscape of the battlefields allows us to put ourselves in the shoes of the combatants and learn what they went through. We have evidence that helps us connect and learn from the past: from museums, battle fields, national monuments and national cemeteries. We are all connected to the past; we just need to let it connect to us.

JARED REYNA Young Men’s Leadership Academy

The People’s Government Despite being over 200 years old, the Constitution still serves as the backbone of the American Government. This is because America’s core values: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness are timeless, and true to people of all eras. The first sentence of the Constitution, “We the People”, guarantees the power to the American people to create change as they see fit. This ideology of “a government of the people, by the people, for the people,” as coined by President Abraham Lincoln during his Gettysburg Address in 1863, has been embodied all throughout American history, and Americans have used this Constitutional power to create change during the Harpers Ferry Raid and the Civil War. In 1859, tension between the Northern and Southern States was high. Abolitionist John Brown decided to voice his belief to the nation by conducting a raid on Harpers Ferry and its National Armory. He believed in the liberation of all slaves and the abolishment of the institution of slavery.

He was a freedom fighter advocating for equal human rights and he exercised his constitutional power to create change and tried to end slavery, albeit violently. We felt his fiery passion when we visited Harpers Ferry and saw where he took his last stand. His raid was unsuccessful in the short term, leading to his being tried and hanged. His final words were “I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away, but with blood.” This radical and violent resolve incited change and showed the nation that the problem in the United States, the system of human enslavement, could only be solved by the People’s power, whether it be violent or not. The solution came in the form of a bitter Civil War. Union soldiers, at first, fought to preserve the Union, whether it meant the end of slavery or not. The Confederate soldiers fought to defend their agricultural way of life dependent on slavery. After the battle of Antietam, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, shifting

the purpose of the war from preserving the country to ending slavery. Every soldier of the war signed up ready to sacrifice everything to defend what they believed in. Union soldiers fought valiantly in Bull Run and Antietam, and served gallantly in Vicksburg and Gettysburg in order to preserve the Union at first. Eventually, the North saw beyond the battlefield and realized that the true cause of the war was to end slavery. President Lincoln made people realize this when he issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Although they were still not yet free from oppression, the Emancipation Proclamation was a huge step on the road towards racial equality. It was not until the 13th Amendment that the practice of slavery was outlawed in the United States. After 4 years of bloodshed, the Union succeeded in preserving the Safety and Security of the country by reuniting the divided nation and President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation unshackled all slaves in the Confederate States. Countless servicemen perished defending their unalienable rights to Life,

Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, as written by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence.

My heart sprung at the hope that the Union soldiers fought for, the liberation of those enslaved in the Southern states.

I realized that history is so much more than just the timeline in which it occurred. The Civil War did not just erupt from nowhere. Tension from the Kansas-Nebraska Act and John Brown’s radical ideologies catalyzed the start of the war. Through this experience, I felt the dedication in every soldier’s hearts at the battle of Antietam when I walked the ground where they fell.

All in all, one of the Constitution’s most important topics is the creation of a nation that is for the People. This means that the American People hold the power to change and amend the government as needed. John Brown exercised this right when he organized a slave revolt in order to bring change to the nation and its government policies. The Union soldiers

Antietam National Battlefield

who perished in the Civil War exercised this right by fighting for what they believed in, the preservation of the Union and the eradication of slavery. Ultimately, this is a nation of the People, by the People, and for the People. The numerous memorials we visited on our Washington D.C. Staff Ride serve as a reminder of that.

KEVIN GUERRA Young Men’s Leadership Academy

Influences of History Going into this trip, I had little understanding of how much of America’s history affects me today. Yet, as a result of traversing from one historical place to another, I began to see how influential the past is on the present. Realizing this influence left me feeling in an unrecognized and unfamiliar way. History engaged me. History intrigued me. History informed and even saddened me. Seeing how simple choices made years ago caused the deaths of over 180 people at the 9/11 Memorial or how Martin Luther King, Jr. and his followers fought to take long strides for rights for African

Americans in America helped me realized that where I was and what I was learning shaped who we are as a nation. Learning how each decision or major event caused a domino effect of other events to take place shocked me. History is that boring class you take in school where you spend the bulk of your time fighting sleep, yet I was experiencing History and I was not fighting sleep (except on the long bus trips when I actually succumbed to sleep.) I first experienced intrigue while visiting Harpers Ferry, listening to the tour guide explain in detail about the John Brown Raid. I began to see how critical these

events were on influencing the rest of American History, being one of the driving factors to the break out of the Civil War. The Civil War which was fought to preserve the Union since Southern states seceded from the Union with the goal of protecting their rights to own slaves (which at the time Southerners considered property). The Civil War saw the battle of Antietam, being one of the bloodiest battles in American History due to outdated tactics and poor coordination by Northern and Southern Generals. The battle left the Southern army crippled and retreating to the South. Abraham Lincoln saw this

retreat as an opportunity to turn the Civil War into a moral fight over outlawing slavery in Southern States. On this battlefield, I began to learn more and eventually connect the dots and see the influences of these events as I went through the African American Museum. Although our visit to the museum was extremely brief and there was much I missed (more to see than we had time for) what I did observe was the blood, sweat and tears for equal rights among all citizens. The Civil Rights Issue might have never happened if the Civil War never made slavery a moral issue. The development made by African Americans and their communities for basic human rights allowed us to progress as a country.

By the time of The Holocaust, our actions took a while to catch up to our consciousness, which had already been forged through slavery. However, we recognized the abuse of the nearly six million Jews who were murdered, due to a nation following behind a belief that was years outdated. In earlier years, many laws were put into effect to protect Jews and give them basic rights, giving many Jews the rights to own stores and prosper in a society that was gradually accepting the idea of a Jew. This Jewish prosperity came crashing down with the Nazi party in power, slowly undoing years of development of Jewish communities in Germany sending them back to square one. Making matters worse, it went right under the radar, many

stood idle by and many more knew nothing. With the Nazis going unchecked they began to throw Jews into death camps killing thousands on a daily basis. By the time action was taken and what was happening at these death camps were uncovered half of the Jewish community in Europe was dead. Learning all this gives me a different perspective on history as a whole, leaving me appreciating history more than I did before coming on this DC trip. Prior to the staff ride, I did not understand how much America’s history impacts my life today.

SAMUEL BURNS Young Men’s Leadership Academy

Harpers Ferry

Belief... action? I was excited when Major Padilla told me I would be attending the staff ride to Washington D.C. Our school conducted research and prepared a presentation on John Brown’s Raid at Harpers Ferry. Before the trip, I was mostly looking forward to seeing the arsenal in Harpers Ferry. However, Harpers Ferry was not the only place we visited. We were fortunate to see many places and experience a new way of looking at history, our history. In looking at that history, I noticed one recurring theme: people took action based on their beliefs. Our visit to the Pentagon Memorial

exemplified this theme and undoubtedly left a lifelong memory. On the early morning before sunrise, Sunday, April 28, 2019, we boarded a plane headed to Washington, D.C. The very first stop of our trip was the Pentagon Memorial. As we approached the Pentagon Memorial, it did not look exciting. There was construction and not many people were present. I did not have much information on it, and to me it seemed insignificant. My perspective quickly changed when I met this middleaged woman carrying a vase with flowers.

She came up and asked if there were a specific order to the benches that bore the names of the lost souls aboard the ill-fated Flight 77. Unfortunately, I did not know the information at the time. Minutes passed and my instructors informed me that every person who died there was placed in order by year of birth from youngest to oldest. The benches facing the building were to honor the people who died on the plane, while the benches facing away from the building were for the people who died inside the Pentagon. After learning all this information, I then searched for the woman

to assist her in finding the name of her loved one. The woman was slowly wandering around perusing each bench name. I walked right up to her and offered my help and soon we quickly found the bench. She was gracious enough to let us know a little bit about the person she was there to visit, Dora Marie Menchaca, her first cousin. Dora was 45 years old with a PhD in Epidemiology. Dora had a research team working to find a cure for prostate cancer and was in Washington, D.C. to give a presentation to the FDA. She took the early flight to California to return home to her loving kids. At this point, my eyes were filled with tears and my heart

felt compassion for this woman. I came to the Pentagon Memorial not understanding how impacting it is to certain people, but finding out about Dora helped me understand the significance of the Pentagon Memorial. (Memorial, a symbol of who or what was for reflective purposes.) Life can change so fast and so unexpectedly. Love who you can, when you can, while you can, as much as you can. The time I spent talking to the middle aged woman changed my whole perspective twofold: in Pentagon Memorial and in myself as a citizen. My visit has influenced me to act upon my actions and care for

what I have before I potentially lose what I have. Going forth, I have a newfound respect for the Anniversary 9/11 and feel a more intimate connection because of my knowledge about the passing of Dora Menchaca. Even though I did not lose anyone during 9/11, I empathize with what it means to lose a loved one, and want to honor those who has lost their lives during 9/11. Due to my enlightening visit to the Pentagon Memorial, I will cherish and appreciate my loved ones before they are gone in an instant.

JISEL RODRIGUEZ North Side High School

Pentagon Memorial

Ignited Fire What are the responsibilities of a citizen leader? Could it be to protect her nation and her people’s freedom, justice, and human equality? How does the history we learn influence who each of us is today? It has always been a dream of mine to go to the capital. This trip to Washington made that dream a reality. On April 28, 2019, three FWISD Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC) and I boarded a plane headed to Virginia. We were all eager to explore our nation’s capital as well as get a closer look into our nation’s history than that which our history textbook offered us. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to share such a memorable and enriching trip with an amazing group of people. Everything I learned, from the trip to Virginia, has put into perspective the trials and tribulations that generations before us experienced. Learning about the fight it took to get to where we are now empowers me to fight for a brighter tomorrow. Although we may not be able to turn back time, we are able to

move forward in a positive direction and exemplify the words in our Preamble that asks us to “form a more perfect union”. We have the power now to pay it forward and take the steps today that will lead future generations closer to greatness. Although I gained much knowledge and empowerment from this trip that is not all that I have gained. The first thing that I have started to do, as a result of my experiences, is to use this knowledge to bring awareness to my classmates, friends, and family. I seek to speak upon the the unwritten stories that often go unacknowledged but that often bring a different perspective on history’s significant moments. One of the stories that most affected me was of one at the Pentagon Memorial from a woman who had lost her loved one during the 9/11 attack. Her story moved me and my classmates and I know I will always remember how I felt. I understood right there how

important memorials are to the loved ones who lost someone. Most of the people that I know have no idea of the history of our country, the struggles and pain many have suffered to make it what it is today. I know that with this new found knowledge I too can make a difference in someone’s life just as it made a difference in mine. Not only do I desire to speak about this trip but I now feel the responsibility to share my knowledge and what I learned with others in hopes of creating change. Secondly, I will ensure that I do my part and uphold my civic duty to vote and make my voice heard. I will register, do my research, and participate in elections. I will support those running for office who represent beliefs and values that will benefit the masses and not just the individual. Much like a family, the people of this nation must join together to have their voices heard, to leave a louder mark. We must not allow our differences to tear us apart but rather pull us closer together. We

should continue to discuss our beliefs and share our viewpoints. We may not agree but we must never let the conversation come to an end. We must learn to work in harmony and love one another. We need to elect people into office with pure intentions to protect this nation’s integrity. Together, our voices will be heard. Together we can make a difference. For the past four years through the JROTC program, my classmates and I, through this program, have participated in over 100 hours of community service. I plan to continue this as I transition into college and new areas of my life. Throughout the trip, we had the honor and privilege of revisiting history and

experiencing it for ourselves. We went to many amazing and extraordinary places such as the Pentagon Memorial, the World War II Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and the National Museum of African American History & Culture. These sights have given us an insight to our past and how, ultimately, everything came together to form the country we are today. I have gained much knowledge about our nation’s history and appreciation for the sacrifice. Nevertheless, one thing that I am most grateful for is the fire that it this has ignited under me to create change. A

fire, which I will continue to feed, as I grow wiser and more informed. In all honesty, I have learned more in the week I spent in Virginia than I have ever learned in class. I am grateful that I, along with other amazing cadets, had the opportunity to see history as it is and not as it is told. It has been an honor to be able to walk in the midst history and be able to come together as a people and bring every bit of knowledge that we have gained and turn it into something bigger than ourselves. I hope that future JROTC cadets have the same amazing opportunity. So that, they too, gain all of what we gained in Virginia.

JANETT BELTRAN North Side High School

War Memorials

History’s influence on me Going on this staff ride, I realize the way we speak, think, and interact with each other is affected by the history of this country. If we did not look back and

War Memorials

deconstruct the past then we would just repeat the same mistakes. It is important to understand where we came from in order for us to learn from those mistakes

and not go through them again. On this trip, we learned a lot of information about the history of the United States that changed my perspective. I believe that if

we can reignite a passion for history in this country, it will ease the tensions in the world today. Going to all these memorials made me realize we really have not learned from our past. When we went to the Roosevelt Memorial there where a lot of quotes where he talked about not wanting this country to go to war again. But there are times when we have to stand up for what is right. After the attack on Pearl Harbor we entered World War II. Before President Roosevelt died, he was quoted to have said, “I have seen war. I hate war.” He clearly states he does not want this country to go to war again. He explains the ugliness of war and the effect it has on the military member’s family, “I have seen the agony of mothers and wives”. It was his hope that World War II would be the war to end all wars. But, ten years later America was in another war in Korea. We did not learn from the past of World War II because we neglected to inform our citizens of the problem and history of the war. Later, we fight the Vietnam War and then the global war on terrorism.

Another lesson the American citizens have yet to understand is racism. If you look back in American history, you can find racism from the beginning of the country. Some of the major events were because of racism; John Brown’s Raid, The Civil War, The Battle of Antietam, The Emancipation Proclamation, and The March on Washington. (Martin Luther King, Jr. was an advocate for equal rights, not just for African Americans, but for all people.) At the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, there is a stone wall with fifteen of his most famous quotes. One says: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” This means that we cannot fix racism with racism we need to stop hating and start loving each other. We still cannot understand that people are humans no matter what color they are or their size. Racism is not morally correct, because it is judging simply due to the fact that the color of their skin is different, or where they are from is different, or

what they believe in is not “the correct one;” however, the reality is that we are all human beings. This is what divided our country and started the Civil War. This is why Martin Luther King Jr. had the March on Washington and gave the “I Have a Dream” speech. Even though Dr. King’s activism led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, abolishing Jim Crow laws, and integrating the South, racism continues to this day. By learning all this information this past week and relating it to the present, I realize that American citizens do not understand the depth of our country’s history. We do not look back and deconstruct the past so we do not make the same mistakes. Instead we just briefly touch the surfaces on these subjects in school. Now we can go back to our schools and inform our fellow cadets and students about the history we learned. If we can reignite a passion for history in this country it will ease the tensions in the world today.

ORLANDO JUAREZ South Hills High School

Unrepresented What determines who deserves to be represented? And who is worthy to be considered a citizen? Does citizenship have to be deserved? Throughout our history, we have seen the morals of people of the United States evolve. In the Preamble we see that “We the People” did not apply to everyone and one had to meet certain requirements (white man, landowner) to be considered a citizen. The Constitution applied to white men and we were centuries away from truly embodying the meaning that all men are created equal. Many wars were fought so that we could find ourselves in this place at this time. The most important war fought, leading us to this place at this time, was the Civil War. People fought this war because they wanted to free enslaved Africans (who at this juncture were just as much American as the next immigrant). Thousands of people sacrificed their lives to right the wrongs of the past.

Now I have a clearer understanding of why many say, “Freedom is not free.” At Mount Vernon, I was touched by Brenda Parker who was a worker interpreting the life of Caroline Brenda, a slave during George Washington’s presidency. Caroline showed us the true history of slavery on George Washington’s Plantation, the history that is unknown by most people. Caroline showed us the truth behind the curtain of most of our history books. For example, George Washington, the first president of the United States, owned slaves and would, at times, give them harsh punishments. Slaves on Mount Vernon had to build their own bricks and build their own houses all while tending to the day-to-day duties required of them. This demonstrates how the Preamble was not taken into consideration due to the fact that the slaves were not considered equal to the white man. Despite knowing better, George Washington took advantage of that time in history and owned many slaves (some

which he inherited and some which he acquired). Abolitionists wanted to end the cruel practice of slavery. In the early 1800s, abolitionists sought to completely wipe out slavery in an attempt to put an end to the segregation and discrimination. John Brown, an abolitionist, in the Harpers Ferry Raid, put his character and reputation at risk when he sided with the slaves and suggested using armed forces to put an end to slavery. He took this approach because he believed that the abolitionist movement was not doing enough to yield progress. Although John Brown’s intentions were pure and filled with good resolve, he lacked a concrete plan and unfortunately saw little success. Nevertheless, his plan gave a spark to the Civil War, ultimately putting an end to slavery and freeing over four million slaves.

ALEXA DOMINGUEZ North Side High School

Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon

Beliefs Built America This trip allowed me to see how beliefs influence people’s’ actions. This trip really gave me some ideas to ponder. Some beliefs led to violent conflicts. Other beliefs led to educational usefulness. When we departed for Antietam, I was excited, because Antietam is a bloody part of American history that has a deeper meaning than just a battle of a war. The overall conflict started by a combination of slavery versus state’s rights that go hand in hand. The southern peoples’ beliefs, which they did not want infringed upon, led them to take up arms; however, before this large conflict between brothers ensued, there was an accelerant. John Brown, who believed that slavery was inhumane, against the will of God, and wrong in general, organized a revolt. Brown’s Raid caught my attention because he is a white man who hates slavery and is willing to take up arms to end the institution of slavery. Brown killed whites who agreed with the idea of owning people for labor or other purposes. This, in turn, scared

the slave-owning whites of the South and Kansas. Making them fear abolitionists, freedmen, and even Northern people who need their resources causing the Southern people to question if they could stay a part of a government whose citizens regarded John Brown as a martyr. This event had a large impact on me because even though Brown did not complete his goal, others completed his goal for him and achieved freedom for the slaves. Equally important to me would be my time at Mount Vernon. This historical site hit closer to home because we met a black reenactor who portrayed a slave of the time. The reenactor at first was not believable until we went to the slave cabin and she had the true feelings and current feelings of an African American looking at her roots. This cabin had a strong emotional pull to the point where I almost cried. To see the slave cabin and the fingerprints on the bricks allowed me to visualize what slaves went through

and how many lived in those harsh conditions. I also noticed how slaves toiled in the fields owned by a man who spoke about freedom and human rights (that are unalienable and given by God, a supreme being who created people in His image.) Though having slaves, himself, Washington still advocated for slaves to the point where he freed them from bondage post-death. I believe Washington did not ultimately like nor wish to see any human in bondage despite being called someone’s property or not. Another extremely emotional place for me at Mount Vernon would have to be the unmarked abandoned burial site of the slaves. Strangely, even though unkempt, the burial site felt more homey, more as if the buried slaves were at peace and had become one with the world.

SEBASTIAN BRIGHT Young Men’s Leadership Academy

Significance of War When the plane landed in Virginia, I only looked forward to seeing the U.S. Capitol. As I stood in the middle of the rotunda of our nation’s capital, I was captivated by the beauty of the art, drawings and sculptures. Each room had its own history and it was where laws were made that still affect us today. However, this trip turned out to be more than just the simple sightseeing excursion most tourists take when they come to Washington, D.C. Before the trip, I did not fully realize the significance of war and what it meant to the soldiers and loved ones who were a part of them. As a result of coming on this trip, I am a witness to the pain and sacrifice our service members endured to fight for the freedoms and uphold the values and morals we as Americans strongly believe in. During my reflection I realized our past is what defines us and in some way, we are all connected.

The place that left a lasting impact on me were the memorials dedicated to our veterans: Mount Vernon and the Arlington National Cemetery. On our fifth day of the trip, we visited memorials dedicated to our veterans. The first memorial on our agenda was the World War II Memorial. We were fortunate to see two busloads of WWII, Korean and Vietnam War Veterans who were being escorted by the Honor Flight Organization. I was inspired by the look in their faces when they offloaded the bus in wheelchairs. You could tell they were excited to see the monuments dedicated to their honorable service and sacrifice. For the Vietnam Memorial, there is a wall with over 58,000 names to include soldiers that are missing in action. We were given a name of a person to find on the wall. The name I had was SFC Eugene Ashley Jr, a Medal of Honor recipient of the Vietnam War. The Korean Memorial is a wall with shadows of the faces of men. This is because the Korean War is known as the

forgotten war. All of the men that served our country should always be respected and remembered. I feel more connected to these places because I have an uncle currently serving in the Army and three JROTC instructors that I know well. On our third day, we visited Mount Vernon. This was the home of our first president George Washington. As I was walking through the Mount Vernon estate, I was amazed by the scenery. I was standing on the property of our first famous U.S. Army General and the Father of our country. Washington had slaves that took care of his estate while he was away. He believed that slaves should be treated fairly, but behind closed doors, he would sometimes beat them. Nonetheless, Washington wanted to make it seem as if the slaves were getting treated well by having brick homes for them but in reality, the slaves had to make their homes themselves and were forced to live in crowded conditions. I have experienced racism and many undocumented people continue to

experience discrimination today. One of Washington’s morals was his belief in God. I personally believe in God. The belief in the Bible has been passed down through generations. Washington believed his Army should act with integrity, morality and honesty. I believe these key factors are important in everyone’s day-to-day life. It is significant to know right from wrong, to always want to tell the truth and to also act strong for what you believe in. In the afternoon, we took a tour of Arlington National Cemetery. This is a sacred and hallowed place for veterans. There is much respect for this site and when you are here, you gain a greater appreciation for the sacrifice of our service

Arlington National Cemetery

members. There are generals of the Army and two Presidents at this cemetery, John F Kennedy and William Taft. I am connected to this historical site because of my participation in the JROTC program. I understand the significance of our flag, the customs and courtesies and Army values we as cadets have learned. Servicemen sacrificed their lives in order to protect ours. I believe we need to honor our fallen every chance we get. Our country has many great achievements, great leaders, and great intentions, but we made a few mistakes. I believe the past teaches us not to make the same

mistakes and to grow and improve as a nation. Arlington National Cemetery is a place where people can visit to be inspired and have a better understanding of what sacrifice and service to our nation truly means. Mount Vernon is a place to see the home of our first president and see how his slaves were being treated. The memorials are places to remember the lasting impact of serving our nation. We are all connected to the past and we are fortunate to have sites that remind us of our history that propels us to our future.

MALENA NARVAEZ North Side High School

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

My Connection to the Past I have never been interested in our government, politics, or even history. This might surprise you since I elected to take this Honors U.S. Military History class. A class in which we scratch the surface of the events that shaped our nation. However, on this staff ride, we walked where these people walked, walked where these people lived, walked where these people fought, walked where these people died, and walked where these people are forever immortalized. This staff ride has changed my perspective of how I feel about history. I have a richer understanding of how each of us are connected to the past. I gained this understanding by visiting The Arlington National Cemetery and connecting myself to those fallen soldiers. When we arrived at The Arlington National Cemetery, I thought it would be like any other cemetery in the world. My thoughts changed as soon as we started learning about this place. The Arlington National Cemetery was the first national cemetery

built and it was originally for the union soldiers who lost their lives during The Civil War. The cemetery was needed due to the overflowing amount of dead bodies and the fact that the churches had run out of places to put these soldiers. So in 1864, this National Military Cemetery was founded. Many very important people are buried here. However, the most important are an estimated 400,000 plus soldiers who fought for our nation so we could be where we are today. I have enlisted in the military myself and soldiers, whether deceased or alive, are very important to me. I am connected to these men and women who fought for our lives because I too will serve very soon. Soldiers today are still being buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Although I will not be fighting the same battles as these fallen comrades such as those who fought in the Civil War from the past, I hope to one day become a better citizen for the good of the country.

We were fortunate enough to visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier here at Arlington National Cemetery. We arrived just in time to witness the changing of the guard, and a ceremony where a wreathe of flowers was posted in front of the tomb. Witnessing this ceremony impacted me in a way where I now feel more sympathetic and thankful. “Freedom is not Free� due in part of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. This ceremony also made me feel the need to do better for myself, for my friends and family, and for everyone because I need to appreciate the fact that I am still here today.

ANGELA RAMIREZ South Hills High School

In the National Museum of African American History & Culture, I learned about the challenges and much of the segregation and discrimination African Americans experienced while attempting to integrate into society. After the Civil War and the passing of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, one may believe that such would lead to resolution, unity and most importantly equality. Unfortunately, that was not the case at all. Segregation

skyrocketed after Jim Crow Laws took place. This took away the possibility for a sense of equality but never the passion for equality. Specifically, many African Americans’ kept a passion for sports. As we saw in the National Museum of African American History & Culture, African Americans were excellent at sports and that was one arena they were allowed to excel. They were talented, thus, white people due to fear, would not compete

National Museum of African American History & Culture

against them. White people sought to cover up their fear by saying they were not going to compete against someone below them. As you can see, even though there were laws against segregation and racism, white people still thought that African Americans were below them and not as important as they were.

ALEXA DOMINGUEZ North Side High School

Belief and Effects of Core Values Before I went on this trip, my personal belief was that I did not care to pay attention to the whys, the struggles, the conflicts of the possibility of my lifestyle. However, throughout my time here on this trip to our rich cultural and historical capital of the United States, my very ideals were shaken to their foundations. Throughout the lessons in our nation’s history, the beliefs and the core values that gave these men and women their drive and focus were, in a way, implemented into me. In a way that these brave men and women have influenced me for the better with their struggle to righteousness and justice for a better tomorrow. As a result of John Brown’s actions at Harpers Ferry, the Civil War ensued and at the helm of the Union was Abraham Lincoln. He was a man of great magnitude who was faced with many hardships. One, he was faced with a difficult predicament of not only keeping the Union together, but also freeing the men and women

in shackles. What President Lincoln accomplished was an impossible feat, not only did he abolish slavery, but he kept America together. Lincoln had to put structures in place to abolish slavery or the colored men could not begin to gain equality. As well as keeping the nation together, we could never progress as a continent with our guns at each other’s front lawn. Our 16th President believed that we could stand together as a nation, even though we differ in beliefs. Freeing the slaves, however, did not free them from the tyranny of the white supremacists who wanted to keep the recently freed slaves under their control using fear and violence as their weapons. Over years, the Colored were subjected to many dehumanizing laws and protocols. This is where Martin Luther King Jr. comes in, he advocates for the push of Colored rights. Where no longer, shall a woman be placed in jail for sitting on the bus after a long day of hard work. His beliefs were

that of Equality, Justice, and Morality. This leader taught not only the nation, but the world, to love with these beliefs. He showed great courage in fighting peacefully for equality and I believe that all of us can take to heart what he displayed and what he believed in. With all of this in mind, being on this trip exposed me to both leadership and individual values that will follow me to the grave. John Brown fought for what he believed in; President Lincoln stood for the belief that a nation should stay as a union; and Martin Luther King spoke for equality. Most importantly, however, is the idea that history is filled with struggles that teach us the important lessons, lessons that guide us to a better tomorrow.

BRETT LOPEZ South Hills High School

“We the People” How has “We the people”, the first three words of the United States Constitution from 1787, embodied the nation’s core values throughout United States history? The answer is: selectively. Caucasian men made all the power moves in America. They did not endure being enslaved nor not having inalienable rights. How can the nation’s core values be embodied, such as freedom of speech or religion, if a set of people are denied these freedoms? History has been written by the winners, and being the losers, African Americans had no say in the construction of history. What I took from the National Museum of African American History & Culture is that if we go to the 16th Century where African Americans were traded in the Transatlantic Slave Trade, in exchange for crops, gold, and goods, we see the root of our history; they were the new face of slavery and for a very long time. The ships they were transported in carried 250-600 slaves maybe even more depending on how much the trader was trying to get. Slaves were

placed in the last compartment of the ship all the way at the bottom and they often had to help steer the ship with long paddles. So even while being transported they were still working. Many slaves died during the transportation period due to diseases and bleeding out. When they had diseases they were sent to a room with one bench and their skin would be torn by the bench and by the bottom of the boats due to the constant swaying of the ships. Many slaves decided they did not want to face this fate so they jumped off the ship while in shackles. They made an attempt to swim away, yet many drowned while trying. In America, slaves were to work the fields, plantations, and within the homes of the people that bought them. They were told to do whatever the owner wanted, since they were owned, and sadly slaves could be called whatever name the owner wanted. Typically, the slave’s parent gave him a first name then the last name was the owner’s last name. Although slaves took the family’s name, they were not exactly your

modern day family. Any wrong that was done by the slaves resulted in their being beaten, especially when it came to any revolts or negative attitudes. For example, Nat Turner was a slave who led a revolt and was hung for speaking against slavery and for speaking against his master. Segregation separated the United States racially in every aspect of life and existed throughout American history up until 1969, even with the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Gettysburg Address, and many speeches by Civil Rights activists such as Martin Luther King Jr. The goal of each of these documents and abolitionists’ speeches was to fight for the basic human equality for all. To make America live up to its founding values. If any group of people feels they are excluded from their nation then something needs to be changed. That’s my responsibility as a citizen leader.

My job is to also provide this generation with information of what happened in the past and where we went wrong as a nation in order to prevent any of those practices from prospering into the future. All in all, the essence of the Constitution contradicts the morality of Americans all throughout history. From slavery to segregation, Thomas Jefferson’s claim that “All men are created equal” has never been true. Moreover, if I must publicly advocate for a group of people or support any group of people that feel oppressed in their home country, then I will do everything in my power as a citizen leader to advocate for that group.

KAMERON SANDERS Young Men’s Leadership Academy

National Museum of African American History & Culture

Core Values: the Nation’s, Mine In the United States, there has been a long history of hard work, dedication, and sacrifice. As a country, we tell a story of the people who have paid great amounts to better this nation. From July 4, 1776 to present day, we can find hardwork, sacrifice, and dedication from the Continental Army to the men and women of today’s Armed Forces. One such man is John Brown. John Brown, a man that truly believed that all men were created equal, planned a slave revolt, which later created tension within the United States. Brown believed that if he could take Harpers Ferry, he

could encourage slaves to join him. Entering the Ferry with five men, Brown took the armory, weaponry, and set himself up for the revolt to succeed. He ultimately failed. He overlooked the fact that slaves were terrified of their owners; that slaves were broken, scared, and believed they would never be free. Meanwhile, General Robert E. Lee received word of the raid and took a unit of Marines to stop Brown. Lee surrounded Brown; Marines broke down the door; together they detained Brown. Tried and convicted of attempting to start a slave revolt, Brown’s punishment was death by hanging. What John Brown did not know

National Museum of African American History & Culture

at the time of his death is that although his vision did not pan out in that moment, his legacy would live on. His legacy would help perpetuate a war that would realize his vision (no more slavery). Brown’s actions ultimately sparked the first civil disagreement over slavery between the North and the South. Hard work... John Brown showed hard work by planning, creating, and devising a plan to start a slave revolt. He gathered his information, clocked his times and chose his place. Brown implemented his plan to eradicate slavery and show that a slave revolt was a cause worth fighting. His

dedication to his cause was reflected in his raid (the famous John Brown’s Raid) that took his time, energy, and motivation. He talked for weeks with five other men to create this perfect plan (which showed slavery is wrong, that slaves have a voice, that slaves are equal). Brown’s sacrifice: he paid the greatest price, his life, death by hanging. As a cadet, I hold these three values closer than ever to my heart. I put my dedication in my commitment to JROTC. I work countless hours on improving the wear and appearance of my uniform. I earned the title of Cadet Colonel. I go over

and above the standards most cadets have in FWISD. I get up earlier and show up earlier. That is hard work. As a student leader, I make sacrifices regularly. My sacrifice lately was to come on this trip knowing that I am going to get behind in my schoolwork. I gave a week of my school time to come on this staff ride, so that I could further my knowledge on the history that is not spoken about in school. Upon my return, I have to catch up on a week’s worth of work-sacrifice. While on the trip, I had to spend much of my time with the 1st Sergeant learning and enhancing my leadership role, while the

other cadets got to frolic or enjoy time with their peers learning. As John Brown made a commitment to sacrifice by stating, “Here, before God, in the presence of these witnesses, from this time, I consecrate my life to the destruction of slavery!,” I, too, make a commitment to sacrifice by serving my fellow man as I enlist in the military to help further ensure the people of the United States freedom... for we learned that “freedom is not free.”

CHRISTOPHER TORRES South Hills High School

In the Constitution, one parts that stands out to me the most is “In order to form a more perfect union.� Our country has learned from past mistakes and changed laws to be more perfect not perfect, but to improve. This striving was evident when I met the US Representative from Texas 33rd District, Marc Veasey, who is an African American and from Fort Worth where I am now from. My meeting him, showed me how things have improved as well as how things have changed for the better.

Since that day, the core values have been seen differently over time in US history but they have been for the best as we are now closer to seeing a more perfect Union. As a student leader, I will always keep in mind what had to be done in order for me to be able to walk around free and to be able to express my thoughts. All of the things that had to be sacrificed, all the lives that were taken away, all of the blood that was shed for me to be able to come on this trip and to be able to improve my leaderships skills.

I learned... I will never forget... and I will find out more about history to learn more and I will always appreciate all the things that have been done. I will always be grateful and mindful for sacrifices. And I will not do the wrongs of the past.

ALEXA DOMINGUEZ North Side High School

National Museum of African American History & Culture

My Responsibility “We the people,” the first three words of the U.S. Constitution, have made a great impact on United States history. The nation’s core values include liberty, human equality and justice. The purpose of “We the people” was to include all the people as stated in the Declaration of Independence with the words of “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” However, the values in which the U.S. Government stood upon were not executed in the initial years of the U.S. Constitution, which has inspired many historical leaders or groups to take action against things that were morally wrong. These leaders had to sacrifice and work hard. Some of the few events that were inspired by the true meaning of “We the people” were John Brown and his raid on Harpers Ferry and Martin Luther King in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. During my research of John Brown, I learned he was very courageous because he sacrificed himself. He was brave for

organizing a revolt because it impacted the start of the Civil War. The North and the South’s tension increased after the raid. The South did not want another revolt against slave owners.

are seen. But there is still improvement that can be done because there is still racism. On the news, Blacks and Latinos fight for equality and justice, especially Latinos with the immigration laws.

Martin Luther King Jr. fought for the rights of African Americans because he believed all people should be treated equally and have the same treatment as non-colored people. He wanted to see unity between all different types of people. A quote that impacted me the most from Dr. King was, “True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.” His goal was to create peace between people of different backgrounds, but for this to happen there needed to be justice or fairness in society. MLK contributed to the Civil Rights Movement by being the voice for many colored people and helped the nation push towards change.

I have learned that there has been a lot of sacrifice from many people that has made the country into a better place and it makes me feel thankful for the place that I live in.

In present day, I see that the nation has come a long way from not respecting human rights to improving the way people

My perspective on things changed during this trip and made me realize that this country is amazing even if it has its downsides. I will let the people around me know what I experienced this week. I will share my knowledge. I pray that the hearer becomes a do-er as well. Their change in worldview can only enhance the way they see things in United States history and in the world around them.

ISABEL LOPEZ North Side High School

Sacrifice and Courage A belief is a feeling of certainty of the convictions we hold to be true. Influence is the capacity to have an effect on somebody or something. When I was selected to come to Washington D.C., I paid no attention to these words. However, after observing the plight of slaves in America and the convictions of the men who fought for the freedom of all people, I now appreciate how strong beliefs influence people to action. In the 18th Century slavery was acceptable. People believed people who did not look like or talk like them were inferior and therefore less than human. People overlooked their own beliefs as well as those words of our founding documents stating, that all men were created equal. People enslaved others to secure their wealth and way of life. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, some of our country’s greatest leaders even had slaves of their own because of this mindset. This prevailing thought in our country would continue well into the

19th Century. If not for the work of strongly convicted men and women, we would still have slavery today. Two men who really impacted my beliefs this week are John Brown and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. John Brown was a man reared by his parents with anti-slavery views. A deeply religious man, he was one of the first white American abolitionists. He vigorously defended the rights of all men to be free and believed slavery was a sin against God. Brown tried multiple times to make a change (against slavery) by using violence. His first act against slavery was after the passing of the Kansas Nebraska Act of 1854. He travelled to Kansas and took part in the Pottawatomie massacre where he killed five pro slavery white men. He understood at that point that he could not depend on his government to end slavery. Because of this Act and the Dred Scott decision, he figured the only way to end slavery is through the use of violence. He felt he was asked by God to take action to end slavery so he planned the raid at Harpers Ferry.

Although he was unsuccessful, his actions led to the start of the Civil War. Even though slavery officially ended after the Emancipation Proclamation, black men and women were still being oppressed more than 100 years later. A war was still fought to ensure the end of slavery. A plethora of lives was still lost to ensure the end of slavery. Laws, precedents, and policies were still enacted to ensure the end of slavery. Stifled by Jim Crow laws and persecuted simply because of the color of their skin African Americans looked for a leader to restore their rights. At this point in the late 20th Century, another person who felt motivated by his beliefs decided to take action and speerhead the Civil Rights Movement. I had always seen Martin Luther King Jr. just as the man who wrote the ‘I Have a Dream” speech, but this trip gave me more insight on what he sacrificed and how he sacrificed to stand up for what he believed. John Brown and Martin Luther King Jr. were two men, who were two different

ethnicities, who came from two different time periods, yet had much in common: sacrifice and courage. Going on this trip gave not only gave me the basic knowledge of how these two leaders impacted our country in which we live in today, but it gave me (and my fellow cadets) information that deepened our understanding of a concept taught in History Class. The Staff Ride gave us information on what their life was like before and after they spoke up on their beliefs; if their plan was successful or not; and most importantly what impact they had on our country. John Brown and Martin Luther King, Jr. were only two

men compared to the many leaders we learned about on this Staff Ride. However, the introspective learning about them impacted me to have even more respect than before for all those who have stood up and stand up for what they believe. Consequently, I believe that those who have little to no respect for the learning of our country’s history must dig deeper to get to know history more in depth like I have on this trip. We must understand that Harpers Ferry, the Vietnam War, the World Wars and the many other events, which have hurt not only our country but also the families of many, are not only events that

we must learn to avoid, but we must also learn to not make the same mistakes. We must learn history in depth the way that we learn a language so that we will be able to speak it, read it, write it, and understand it and its sacrifices, impacts, and lessons. John Brown, Martin Luther King, Jr., the unknown soldiers, and veterans still speak to us today. Veterans we thank you for sacrificing so much and giving us the country we live in today.

National Museum of African American History & Culture

CRISTINA FLORES South Hills High School

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Ideas Coupled with Actions The hard work and sacrifice of people of all colors allows me to sit with different people today. Together we talk, we laugh, we play. I am a Hispanic female and on this staff trip there was a diversity of males and females from every background. It was a unique experience to be able to interact with these different minds and learn more about them, their environment, their thinking. This was not always true. If not for the actions of the brave men and women who came before me, I would not have had this opportunity. It is important we learn more about historical figures who shaped the way the country is today. If we allow them to teach us from their mistakes, we can make the world a better place for everyone. I forced myself to look deeper into the culture of the men who founded this country because initially I was angry about how white men treated others. In the 1700s, slavery was acceptable. White people would see and judge

a black person by the color of his skin, and

only war could end slavery. Abraham Lincoln

enslave him. During early times in the history

enacted the Emancipation Proclamation

of America, when the country was being built

in 1863 and helped establish the 13th

slavery occurred. George Washington owned

Amendment abolishing slavery throughout

slaves just like every other wealthy person.

the United States. Abraham Lincoln also led

He espoused publicly that he was against

our country during the war to abolish slavery.

treating slaves incorrectly; yet privately if he felt they deserved a punishment, he administered it. Instead of stopping slavery, Washington followed in the footsteps of his parents. Male slaves would work in the field outside while female slaves would work inside doing chores and sometimes even caring for the master’s children. I feel very conflicted that the men who are the forefathers of our country enslaved other people and their behavior was accepted.

The Holocaust occurred because we did not learn from history and past mistakes, which involved discrimination against religion, sexuality and disabilities. This made history repeat itself in a kind of way, a harsh kind of way. During the Holocaust, Jews were mistreated people just like the slaves were. Finally, Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke out and made several speeches, his most famous being his “I Have a Dream” Speech with his March on Washington that impacted and

If not for the work of principle men like John

touched people as he spoke about all men

Brown and Abraham Lincoln we would most

having equal rights, regardless of their race,

likely still have slavery today. Their belief

ethnicity, etc. Kings actions now put us in

that all men should be free embodied ideas

where we are now- connecting to history and

coupled with action to free slaves. Brown

learning from past mistakes.

failed in completing his mission of freeing slaves even though he dedicated his life (and lost it) to end slavery. Brown believed that

MELISSA ARREOLA South Hills High School

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

A Step in the Right Direction The life or purpose of a shoe is simple. A shoe may be nothing to you but let me define its purpose. A shoe has many functions: it protects, provides comfort, and most of all, is used by everyone. A shoe has an existence of its own. During this trip, I was a shoe. I am a shoe. As I walked, strolled, and roamed into the Pentagon Memorial, I felt the gravel pressing against my sole. I noticed engraved names, reflective water ponds, and benches for reflection. I noticed thoughtful faces, pensive faces, and even happy faces. I noticed civilians, military, and retired military. I noticed sandals, heels, tennis shoes, flip flops, combat boots, trendy boots, dress shoes. As I continued, I paused and noticed a boot; a woman was standing in that boot in front of me with confusion in her eyes. I could sense the desperateness and sadness in her eyes. I know that sadness as my owner has felt

sadness her whole life. My owner, like the boot wearer looks for a place to rest from all of the sadness, despondency, and borderline despair. My owner was brought down by a plethora of situations, yet she continues to look up. My owner cares for others and takes them in consideration. Yet, she always knows her worth. That boot brushed up against me and we had a chance to speak. That boot’s owner was looking for her lost relative. She carried a vase of flowers and had finally gotten a chance to visit the Memorial and look for her cousin. The cousin was the first in the family to become a doctor. The cousin was flying into Washington to go to a meeting with the FDA. The cousin who held so much promise for the family and for herself. The cousin who went down with the plane was caring and compassionate, bright and intelligent, trendsetter and encourager.

Such promise, unfulfilled, all because people wanted to prove their superior authority. The sadness in the boot owner’s face, I knew and know, as things have hurt me and forever changed my form. My perspective on life has changed plenty of times as I am shaped based on the things I encounter. The same way you see it on my sole, is the way you could see it in the boot owner’s face. The boot was walking on the same steps taken by many. Sandals, combat boots, flip flops, dress shoes, high heels, all walking this path helping and leading their owners...each from a different path of life to, though, and around the memorial; all grim and gloomy, all disillusioned and distraught, all confused and confined, all lost and looking. The boot, as all of us shoes, who lives shield its owner from any unfathomable pain, could probably never understand that we cannot heal the heart,

but we can help our owner take a step forward in healing and rejoicing. Cousin’s life, now a memory. A shoe’s job is difficult. We see everything and everyone. We experience the rawness of nature. We sense the vibrations and mood of our setting. Unlike sunglasses or wallets who are able to depart into the safe place of a purse, we do not get a break, not even after our soles and souls have had enough for a lifetime in a day. It should not have surprised me when we made our last stop; I felt all worn out from walking all over the city. I grabbed my shoelaces as we entered a place that can only be described as blue, not the shade of blue in the sky on the first day of summer, but rather the kind of blue that overtakes all other colors, the sad kind of blue: the Holocaust Museum. I was torn apart by what surrounded me as I saw many other shoes that looked just like me. They are me. Except they are not. They do not have to grip their shoelaces anymore. They do not have to worry about what damages their soles will endure. They

do not have a person to worry about. They do not have what I have. What makes me different? I ponder. My person seems sad. I wish I could feel sad, but what I feel is bigger than sad. It overpowers me. I am no longer in a blue; I am in a black. I am in a spiral. What makes me different? We look the same. Yet many of these shoes have soles torn up from want to escape. Many soles are way smaller or way bigger than I. What makes me different? The only thing I could think that day was that maybe what makes me different is that some person is willing to wake up, put on some shoes, and fight so that I do not end up behind a big glass room where these shoes are. These shoes have value. They had value. People who have now made history wore these shoes. People who have now made a very sad epic part of history. These shoes now sit in a well-known museum, the Holocaust Museum. These shoes have no owners. Yet, some person knows, even more than I know that the person who I work so hard to protect is valuable enough to risk waking

up and putting shoes on. Some person and some shoe out there fights for me, so I can walk freely, so I can chase dreams, so I can catch inspiration, so I can change the future, so I can learn the past, so I can glean from other shoes (like the Holocaust shoes), and so I can become that shoe and that person for someone else. Worn by one. Worn by many. Each a new life. Each a new road. Each a new passion. Each a chance to impact. Being a shoe in a world full of so much ground to cover is exhausting, but as long as I keep going, one step forward, we will create our own journey learning from those who came before us in order to help those who come after us. A shoe has many functions: it protects, provides comfort, and most of all is used by everyone.

DAISY AGUILAR North Side High School

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Classroom Instruction Learn. Grow. Have Fun. Learn More. Grow More. Impact your environment for the better. When cadets go on the Staff Ride, this mantra is experienced. From the moment cadets arrive until the moment cadets depart, class ensues. The Staff Ride affords the cadet the opportunity to see history differently while recognizing and realizing history’s impact then as well as history’s impact now. Cadets are challenged to change while making connections about what they see, feel, and experience. Through discussion, reflection, presentations, and writing, the cognitive process molds the cadet’s worldview helping them connect the past to the present in some shape, form, or fashion.

National Park Service Rangers Throughout this Staff Ride, at every site, our Park Rangers and guides were exceptional. Passionate, professional, perceptive, personal and knowledgeable. Quickly establishing rapport, our guides promoted and inspired new perspectives and growth mindset in every staff ride participant. They completely understood our expectations and learning needs, and they created a learning environment where cadets and instructors were always challenged to think critically, to collaborate and to communicate their ideas, thoughts, and opinions.

The FWISD JROTC end of year staff ride was an exciting and memorable experience for not only the cadets, but me as well. This weeklong excursion took us on a journey through time of American History from the colonial period to present day. The exercises of reflection assigned to the cadets at the end of each day provided them an opportunity to reflect on their experience and what it meant to be a part of this nation’s history. The growth, engagement, and depth of reflection on the part of the cadets during the week helped me revisit my own knowledge, opinions, and beliefs, influenced in part, by the history of the United States. At the beginning of the week, the cadets were shy and seemed hesitant to engage with and ask questions of any adults present besides the instructors/staff from their respective schools. By the end of the week, there existed a marked and observable difference in their confidence levels as they freely interacted with and sought help from all individuals there to help them succeed with their final essays as well as answer more in depth questions on their minds as we visited each site. The cadets were mindful of the main theme of how the past connects us all and how they

can learn to be better citizen leaders by studying the past. As we progressed through the sites visiting the September 11 Pentagon Memorial, Antietam, Harpers Ferry, the U.S. Capitol, the African American History Museum, Mount Vernon, Arlington National Cemetery, the monuments on the National Mall, and finally the Holocaust Museum, the cadets gradually grew more reflective. We, as the instructors and staff, did not immediately realize that this group of young people could not attach the same somber significance to the Pentagon Memorial as we, since most of them were either infants or not yet born. I feel we should have discussed the significance of the memorial and the other events of 9/11 in detail prior to the visit – perhaps having the adults share how they were personally impacted. This possibly could have helped the cadets make a better connection to that particular site. Otherwise, the other venues on the itinerary each offered something new and exciting for the cadets as reflected in their final essays. The Holocaust Museum, however, emotionally impacted several cadets and made them ask why these types of injustices such as:

genocide and immigration (resulting from people fleeing civil unrest in their own countries) occur. This awareness made the cadets feel obligated and motivated to not only pay closer attention to world news and events, but also to spread awareness when they return to their schools to possibly affect change (such as through letter writing to elected officials in Washington). Overall, this week was an amazing experience. I was forced to re-evaluate my complacency regarding learning more about various time periods outside of my academic focus and my own connections in a variety of contexts. Further, the experience was rewarding and humbling as I witnessed this group of cadets, shy at first, become confident, more inquisitive, and increasingly engaged in the learning experience. Through this observation, I am optimistic for the future of our country if we have young citizen leaders such as the cadets on this staff ride taking their place as citizens and perhaps making history themselves.

KRISTA M BUCK Graduate Teaching Assistant/PhD Student Department of History - Transatlantic Studies

Conclusion The 2019 Staff Ride was a once in a lifetime opportunity for students to deepen understanding of themselves as a citizen leader. At each site, students were asked to do more than recall dates, people and events that happened there. They bridged connections between past and present. They learned the ways in which history informs our beliefs and how our values guide actions. At Antietam National Military Park students experienced the battlefield through Abraham Lincoln’s actions as evidenced in his First and Second Inaugural Addresses and the Emancipation Proclamation. They grappled with the events at Harper’s Ferry by way of a Frederick Douglass quote, “Did John Brown fail? John Brown began the war that ended American slavery and made this a free Republic.” What it means to be a citizen leader took on new meaning for students during their visit with Fort Worth congressional representatives. At Mount Vernon, Arlington National Cemetery, and

the National Mall students learned about the character of leaders and why it is so important for nations to memorialize those who serve and have sacrificed throughout its history. Students learned to feel history and view it beyond the stories found in textbooks during visits to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture and U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. They bore witness to the lessons of silence and indifference in the face of human suffering and how African-Americans acted to push “We the People” to live up to the founding promises of freedom, justice and human equality throughout American history. By staff ride’s end, students better understood their responsibilities as a citizen leader to protect and advance the nation’s founding promises of freedom, justice, and human equality.

JOSEPH NIEDZIELA Director of Social Studies, FWISD

About our Staff The instructional staff who supported this experience included career military professionals from FWISD high schools, the social studies director from FWISD and an English department head from North Side High School. The diversity and knowledge provided by this cadre enhanced the learning curve of our cadets in a unique and inspirational manner.

Every organization needs a framework. Since we are a learning organization, with a moral purpose, our job is to prepare our young people for the future. Every teacher supporting and participating in this Staff Ride was dedicated to having the best learning experience possible for our cadets. Using strategies and principles outlined in Teaching as Leadership and In Teach Like a Champion, the instructional

team ensured that in all aspects of the experiential staff ride that it was a learning environment. Cadets worked hard, behaved, had fun, modeled strong character, and did their best. Their coaching, teaching, mentoring and reflecting gave cadets intrinsic reasons to inquire, to gather, to process and to apply the countless history lessons as citizen leaders.

Acknowledgments This project was supported and made possible through the generosity and support of the following organizations and individuals:

Association United States Army (AUSA) North Texas Audie Murphy Chapter

Richard and Paula Jones

Jewish War Veterans of USAMartin Hochster Post 755

Vernell Gregg

North DFW Military Officers Association (MOAA) Rotary Clubs of Fort Worth East & Downtown Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD) Dr. Paul Giesel Charlie and Stephanie Correll Richard Cook

Robert and Patty Little Rose Marie and Peter Vickery Douglas Brown and Clarene Schroder-Brown Yolanda Fuentes Veterans National Education Program

Ronald and Patricia Adams Janelle Kavanaugh

Karen Benson

Douglas Allbach Ginger Simonson GGC Enterprise Inc

The videography and photography was provided by highly experienced FWISD Communications Department personnel knowledgeable of the FWISD learning process. The imagery displayed in this journal is a result of years of experience on field trips and staff rides with the JROTC department. These images provide the faces behind the voices of our cadets and educators on a continually evolving road to success. FWISD.ORG/STAFFRIDE

Find videos and books about our previous Staff Rides at fwisd.org/staffride, or browse all of our videos at youtube.com/fwisdnews.

U.S. MILITARY HISTORY usarmyjrotc.com


Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.