Youth Tour winners return from DC
By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer
The Bandera Electric Cooperative sent four local students to Washington, DC as members of the Electric Cooperative's Youth Tour June 14-22.
Winners of the trip were Ali Mae Klaassen, a home schooled student from Medina, Tiffany Lynn Boerner of Comfort High School, and two Bandera High School students, Cory Lee and JoHannah Lucas from Pipe Creek.
The foursome returned safely from their trip to the nation's capital and shared some of the highlights, thanking the co-op's members for providing them with the "opportunity of a lifetime."
Klaasen found the city's architecture fascinating, especially the National Cathedral. She was also moved by the symbolism of service represented by Arlington National Cemetery.
Among the museum visits she experienced, she especially noted, "... when we entered the Holocaust Museum the first thing I saw was a picture of US soldiers entering a concentration camp, where they found a pile of charred bodies burned just because they were Jews. As I continued to view the pictures, videos and news clips I thought of the evil that is required to destroy an entire race and almost succeed."
What life lesson did she learn on the trip?
"... I believe there are more people who give of themselves to make a positive difference, compared to the powerful minority who seek to destroy life. Thus, I am inspired to be part of the majority, to do my part, big or small, to be a positive influence in my area of life."
Corey Lee shared these thoughts about the journey: "This trip to Washington, DC was a dream come true.
I had an opportunity that few people get to tour our nation's capital. I visited sites that I have only seen on TV, and I learned things that I never knew. Now when I watch TV, I can look at a picture of the White House or another monument and say, 'I have been there.'"
Meeting new people made a big impression on Lee. "I met a lot of new people on the trip, ... people from different states, ... new people from all over Texas. From these encounters I was able to get a glimpse into their lives that I would have never thought about....I was thrown in a situation where I didn't know anyone.
I am a shy person that doesn't like
meeting a lot of new people. I had to make friends on my own by approaching someone and introducing myself, instead of sticking to the sidelines.
I got to know two people that will be life-long friends. These two people shared parts of their life with me, and I will never forget them."
Hannah Lucas treasured a family tie with one of the monuments in the city. "Going on a trip to Washington DC was an experience I will never forget. Though the one thing that I will never forget is seeing the statue of the flag raising at Iwo Jima. From the beginning of the trip I looked forward to seeing it. Not just because it's an important part of our nation's history, but also because one of the men on that statue and in the picture [it is based upon] is my great uncle. His name is Harlon Block. He is the guy at the bottom part of the flag. Sadly he passed away on the island at the age of 21.
My grandma told me about how he was brought back to the states to be buried. It was a great honor to see this memorial and all the others I saw while in DC."
Lucas enjoyed learning history directly. "To learn about history through a book or through a teacher, I have discovered, is actually very limited. Getting the opportunity to experience and see first-hand all I was taught in school, taught me more about our country than anything else.
DC is beyond words a beautiful place.
Everywhere you drive has something special and significant about it, especially the buildings. They show much more than just the architecture our country is known for. Each museum, memorial, or government-related building is designed specifically to tell the story of its title, but they also show the alliances and the inspiration that comes from other countries as well."
Boerner learned a deeper appreciation of home. "... I have come to appreciate where I am from much more. Texas really is one of the kindest states in our nation, and [here at home] I can also say 'Howdy y'all' without getting an odd look," she said.
"I was given so many opportunities on this trip. I not only met my representative, Lamar Smith, but also got a photograph and autograph from Ron Paul. I have a library card to the Library of Congress, and I got to point to the top of the capitol in a picture without Photoshop. Not many people can say they have done those things, which is why I cherish the blessing it was to be given this rare opportunity," Boerner added.
Pictured: Cory Lee joined other Youth Tour winners in front of the Washington Monument on the National Mall.
Johannah Lucas has a family connection with one of the men portrayed at the Iwo Jima Monument.
Tiffany Boerner and other Youth Tour winners found the National Cathedral impressive and moving.
Youth Tour winner Ali Klaasen outside the Holocaust Museum.