Tag Archives: student travel tour washington dc

Arlington National Cemetery: Just Outside of Washington D.C.

by Howard Clemens

Student travel groups headed to the Washington D.C. area will want to schedule some time on their itinerary for a visit to Arlington National Cemetery. Arlington is a place of remembrance and loss. It is also a monument to the sacrifices made to keep U.S. democracy sound and our nation properly defended. A number of students have viewed Arlington National Cemetery on television, in the movies, and on news programs but there is nothing as awe inspiring as a visit to the actual site itself.

Famous Americans and Heroes Interred at Arlington

Arlington National Cemetery has been a National Cemetery since 1864. Many famous Americans are buried at Arlington National Cemetery, including John F. Kennedy. War heroes who fought for freedom and the birth of a new nation are interred at Arlington, from the Revolutionary War to the present day war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A Brief History of Arlington House
A student trip to Arlington House is needed to understand the full scope and impact the Civil War had upon Arlington and elsewhere in the nation. The history of Arlington National Cemetery is richly woven into the memorable events in world and domestic politics, and social life. The original owner of Arlington House, was George Washington Parke Custis, the adopted son of George Washington. Washington’s wife, Martha, was widowed when they met and had children by a previous marriage. Custis inherited the property at the age of 2, and when he became an adult he commissioned George Hadfield, the English architect who designed the Capitol Building in Washington D.C., to design a 19th Century Greek revival mansion. Arlington House stands on the hill today – overlooking over 250,0000 gravesites.

After Custis died, his only daughter, Mary Anna Randolph Custis, married Robert E. Lee. At the conclusion of the Civil War, Union troops took up positions around Arlington House, and the property was confiscated for tax purposes as well as obvious political reasons. Lee always lamented the loss of Arlington House and felt personally responsible for it. After Lee’s death, George Washington Custis Lee reclaimed ownership of Arlington House because he said it was illegally confiscated. Eventually it was sold to the government for $150,000 and was turned into public property, where it first served as a freedman’s village and military base and later as a national cemetery.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is guarded everyday by specially trained military personnel who are dressed in their best regalia and remain solemn, focused, and silent. An average of 27 funeral processions occur each day at the cemetery. Much of the ceremonial activities, especially by heads of state, are centered around the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Students may be able to witness a wreath laying ceremony in several ways. For example, if they visit Arlington around the time of a holiday such as Memorial Day or when a head of state is visiting they may witness a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. On any given day there are many other wreath laying ceremonies throughout Arlington National Cemetery they may see. The best way to ensure student travel groups participate in a wreath laying ceremony is to schedule one on the itinerary.

A student travel professional from the Educational Travel Consultants staff will be happy to incorporate a wreath laying ceremony into a student trip to Arlington National Cemetery. An Educational Travel professional will create a formal request letter that goes to the appropriate Arlington personnel for a specific timed wreath laying ceremony for your school. An Educational Travel Consultant will order the wreath with the school colors and have it delivered specifically to the Tomb site at Arlington.

Social Studies Students
Many eras of American history and government are touched upon in Arlington National Cemetery. Educators can easily complement a curriculum where certain periods in American history are being studied by focusing in on specific eras during Arlington National Cemetery’s history. Clearly the Civil War era is a period that can be easily studied in conjunction with a student trip to Arlington. Many heroes from Revolutionary Times are also interred at Arlington, as well as political figures, authors, and even freed slaves. Educators can handpick a variety of topics appropriate to their curriculum by visiting the history page of Arlington National Cemetery’s website.

Student Tours of Washington D.C. Require Knowledge of Security Procedures

By Howard Clemens

Following is a question and answer session with Ann Greenwald, Tour Director, and Licensed Washington D.C. Guide.

As a student tour travel consultant for many years, it has become necessary to prepare groups for security procedures and protocols of certain U.S. government buildings in this post 9-11 era. In a brief interview with an affiliated Tour Director in Washington D.C., I have detailed the many requirements for security that are necessary to visit some of the more common sites within Washington D.C.

White House tour:
Q. What items can you bring with you on the White House tour?
A. You must bring a valid photo I.D. Students may bring a wallet if it fits in a pocket. Women cannot bring purses. Nothing else is permitted: no cameras, no breath mints, no chapstick, no bottled water, no gum – nothing. These items will be taken at the gate and students probably won’t get them back. They go into a trash bin.

Q. How does a student tour group get permission to attend a White House tour?
A. A list of student and adult travelers, along with their Social Security numbers, are submitted to a congressman or senator well in advance of the trip. All names are subject to a background check. Without permission to do a background check, an individual cannot get into the White House. Groups must line up in alphabetical order. For any additional security information concerning a student travel tour of the White House, please consult this site : http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/tours/

United States Capitol Tour:
Q. What personal items are prohibited inside the U.S. Capitol?
A. No oversized backpacks are allowed, though purse backpacks are permissible. All permissible bags are subject to a security search. Depending upon where you start the tour there may be up to three security checkpoints, and three checks on your purse. Other prohibited items include: water, nothing that can be construed as a weapon such as a metal file, no hairspray, no hand sanitizer. No liquids of any kind are permitted. No food is permitted.

Q. What personal items are allowed inside the U.S. Capitol?
A. Cameras are permitted but not inside the galleries (House and Senate chambers). Also permitted on the general tour but not in the galleries is any video recording devices, electronic devices and baby strollers.

Q. When is the Capitol tour open to the public?
A. The Capitol is open to the public for guided tours Monday through Saturday with the exception of Thanksgiving and Christmas days. Ticket holders will be directed to the South Visitor Receiving Facility and proceed to the Capitol to begin their tour. Maximum tour size is 40 people. A student tour company can make arrangements through the U.S. Senator or Congressman to schedule a special tour for educational travel groups and avoid the public line (and wait). If student tour groups need additional information concerning visiting the U.S. Capitol please consult their official website: http://www.aoc.gov/cc/visit/

The Smithsonian:
Q. What security procedures should students and chaperones expect when visiting the Smithsonian as part of a tour?
A. At most museums, security personnel will conduct a thorough but speedy hand check of all bags, briefcases, purses, and containers. All visitors are subject to bag checks with special electronic devices. There are walk through security bag checkpoints at all Smithsonian Museums and students will go through a metal detector. For those unable to walk through the metal detector such as those in wheelchairs, security personnel will screen these visitors individually. No food or drink is allowed in any of the Smithsonian Museums.

Q. What items are allowed in the Smithsonian?
A. Backpacks and purses are allowed in the Smithsonian, and they are subject to search. For any additional security questions concerning a student tour of the Smithsonian, please consult the following site : http://www.smithsonian.org/visit/security_and_policies.htm.

General Tips to Student travelers coming to Washington D.C.
Q. Are there any suggestions you would make to students traveling to Washington D.C. for tours of the various sites?
A. The lighter students travel, the quicker they get through security. Leave ipods or other metal devices in rooms or on the bus. The lighter students go the more comfortable they will be. My advice is if it doesn’t fit in your pocket or wallet or purse, leave it. This will mean the student will not have to get into a bag check line. As a rule, don’t bring food or drink anywhere. In most cases the student can bring water with them (but, not the Capital or White House).

In a typical day of touring with a group, Ann says her groups will visit five to eight sites and go through security an average of three to ten times per day depending upon the site visited.

View this article on IdeaMarketers.