An Educational Tour of Washington D.C. Designed for Junior ROTC or Social Studies Students

Washington D.C. has a great deal to offer for student tours of the city and surrounding area. In fact, there are so many different choices, that student travel trip coordinators might just become overwhelmed. Choosing a qualified and experienced student travel company can certainly help focus a trip and align it with curricular objectives.

Over the years I have developed many different types of trips that tie into a variety of curriculums such as art, history, government, performance tours, science, and more. I have designed a school trip for middle school students and JROTC students studying major U.S. conflicts of the 20th Century.  This educational tour helps students take a closer look at the Vietnam and Korean Wars as well as World War II.  Student travel groups visit sites in Washington D.C. which are directly related to these conflicts. I have organized these tours around the themes of sacrifice and conflict.

Depending upon time allowance, student groups may also plan to visit the main destinations for any educational tour of Washington D.C. The selection of sites might also include a visit to the White House, Capitol Building, Smithsonian Museum, and popular choices for dining, entertainment, and shopping.

Following are my suggestions for destinations for Social Studies and or JROTC students who are studying modern wars:

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The Vietnam conflict was one of the most politicized events of the 20th Century.  Students studying it will want to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. The names of soldiers who died in this conflict are embedded in the wall for all to remember.  On any given day, student groups may see families and loved ones of fallen soldiers honoring their loss with flowers, vigils, personal memorabilia, and more.  Groups visiting the wall may want to opt for the ranger guided interpretive tour, where stories about individual soldiers and units are recounted, as well as a brief history of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Korean War Veterans Memorial

The Korean War Veterans Memorial was opened to the public in 1995 and dedicated by President Bill Clinton and President Kim Young Sam.  Nearby the wall of pictures and names, there are 19 stainless steel statues of soldiers, representing all four branches of the military and from diverse backgrounds. The statues of infantryman and medical personnel appear to be walking in the same proximity as the wall and even emerge from the nearby woods.   The mural displays 2,400 photographs from the Korean War obtained from the National Archives.  Visiting the Korean War Veterans Memorial, students gain a more in depth perspective of this War and its impact on Korean and American life.

Holocaust Museum

The Holocaust Museum is a must see for anyone studying World War II.  It details the systematic, bureaucratic killing of Jews, Russians, Poles, Communists, homosexuals, disabled people and others who were targeted by the Nazi regime in the 1930s and 1940s in Europe.  Students will learn about the Holocaust by viewing historical film footage, artifacts, photographs, and listening to stories recorded by survivors and witnesses. Much of the material in this museum is difficult to contemplate. The events of the holocaust have been well-documented in history books, biographies, fiction and non-fiction. Various texts can be studied alongside a visit to the Museum.   Yet there is really no substitute for the up-close, visual viewpoint provided by the Holocaust Museum which gives a student an even broader perspective and context in which to study this atrocity.

Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery is just outside of Washington D.C. in the Northern Virginia town of Arlington, and is well worth the visit. These burial grounds are the place where many prominent American explorers, judges and historical figures are buried, right alongside of the common soldier who fought for his or her country and died for freedom.  The tomb of the Unknown Soldier is at Arlington and students may observe it being guarded closely by a professional soldier. With enough advance planning, student travel group coordinators may request that their visit to Arlington National Cemetery coincide with a formal wreath laying ceremony, a solemn and colorful tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Smithsonian Museum

The Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. has many facets.  Student groups who are looking to gain a full understanding of American conflicts in the 20th Century will want to schedule some time at the National Museum of American History.  School trips visiting this Museum will find additional information, photographs, relics, films, and stories about the U.S. conflicts mentioned above. The National Museum of American History will expand upon knowledge gathered at all of the sites visited.  This Museum also offers some exceptional curricular materials that can be utilized in the classroom when prepping students to study these wars and make a visit to our nations capitol.

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