– Hannah O’ Koon
Today was our final day in Washington DC, and it was a busy one. First, we were given a choice of visiting either the Air and Space or Art Smithsonian Museum.
I went to the Air and Space museum and explored the history of airplanes and rockets. We learned about the important role airplanes have played in our history, specifically in World War I and World War II. We also saw exhibits about Orville and Wilbur Wright, the inventors of the airplane. Next, we went to the United States National Holocaust Memorial Museum. The museum explored everything from the rise of Nazism and the liberation of the camps in 1945 by the Allied forces to the struggle Jews faced reintegrating into normal life after being segregated and dehumanized during the war. The architecture of the museum added to our experience, as the dimly lit, dark and enclosed areas represented the concentration camps the Jewish people were forced into. While exploring the museum, I thought about my ancestors, and the hardships they faced so that decades later I would have the freedom to practice Judaism. I realized the the Holocaust does not have to define who we are as Jewish people. The genocide of Jews has shaped our history but our generation has the power to make changes in the world, where hopefully some good can outnumber some bad. Of course, we will never forget the Holocaust, but we are stronger than ever as Jews, strong enough to enact positive changes in our society.
After, we went to the Newseum, which explored the history and importance of media. There were exhibits explaining the history of TV, books and newspapers dating back hundreds of years ago. We saw the artifacts that have shaped our history, such as the radio President Roosevelt used in his fireside chats and the book of the Constitution of the United States. Many of the artifacts we saw we had previously discussed in different cities around the country, and it was fascinating to actually see the objects after discussing their purposes. For our final night with everyone in our group, we went to the movies and saw Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. The movie discussed a teenagers relationship with a girl diagnosed with leukemia, his best friend Earl, his parents and his acquaintances at school. On the surface, the movie may have seemed like a typical young adult romance movie, but it was anything but a typical teen movie. The movie discussed themes we had been talking about all summer, like making connections throughout history and digging deeper than the surface to truly understand important events and places. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl united us all as our time together comes to a close.