Guest column: A very special trip to Washington

Immokalee JROTC 2012 
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 Nikon D7000 
 11/7/2012 13:31:38.80 
 Time Zone and Date: UTC-5, DST:ON 
 Jpeg Fine (8-bit) 
 Image Size: L (4928 x 3264) 
 Lens: VR 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6G 
 Artist: Miguel Fernandez 
 Copyright: PortraitEFX by Sun Up 
 Focal Length: 65mm 
 Exposure Mode: Manual 
 Metering: Center-Weighted 
 Shutter Speed: 1/125s 
 Aperture: f/9 
 Exposure Comp.: 0EV 
 Exposure Tuning: 
 ISO Sensitivity: ISO 200 
 Optimize Image: 
 White Balance: Preset manual d-0, 0, 0 
 Focus Mode: AF-A 
 AF-Area Mode: Dynamic, 9 points 
 AF Fine Tune: OFF 
 VR: ON 
 Long Exposure NR: OFF 
 High ISO NR: ON (Normal) 
 Color Mode: 
 Color Space: sRGB 
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 Sharpening: 
 Active D-Lighting: OFF 
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 Auto Distortion Control: OFF 
 Picture Control: [NL] NEUTRAL 
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 Quick Adjust: - 
 Sharpening: 2 
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 Map Datum: 
 Dust Removal: 11/7/2012 12:31:04 
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Photo by Miguel Fernandez

Immokalee JROTC 2012 [#Beginning of Shooting Data Section] Nikon D7000 11/7/2012 13:31:38.80 Time Zone and Date: UTC-5, DST:ON Jpeg Fine (8-bit) Image Size: L (4928 x 3264) Lens: VR 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6G Artist: Miguel Fernandez Copyright: PortraitEFX by Sun Up Focal Length: 65mm Exposure Mode: Manual Metering: Center-Weighted Shutter Speed: 1/125s Aperture: f/9 Exposure Comp.: 0EV Exposure Tuning: ISO Sensitivity: ISO 200 Optimize Image: White Balance: Preset manual d-0, 0, 0 Focus Mode: AF-A AF-Area Mode: Dynamic, 9 points AF Fine Tune: OFF VR: ON Long Exposure NR: OFF High ISO NR: ON (Normal) Color Mode: Color Space: sRGB Tone Comp.: Hue Adjustment: Saturation: Sharpening: Active D-Lighting: OFF Vignette Control: Auto Distortion Control: OFF Picture Control: [NL] NEUTRAL Base: [NL] NEUTRAL Quick Adjust: - Sharpening: 2 Contrast: 0 Brightness: 0 Saturation: 0 Hue: 0 Filter Effects: Toning: Map Datum: Dust Removal: 11/7/2012 12:31:04 [#End of Shooting Data Section]

GOLDEN GATE HIGH SCHOOL JROTC 
  
 Cadets Beatriz Angeles and Anael Contreras present their Martin Luther King Jr. educational briefing under the watchful eyes the MLK memorial. Student-led lessons were part of every point of interest in Washington.

GOLDEN GATE HIGH SCHOOL JROTC Cadets Beatriz Angeles and Anael Contreras present their Martin Luther King Jr. educational briefing under the watchful eyes the MLK memorial. Student-led lessons were part of every point of interest in Washington.

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Copyright 2012

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By Cadet Major Maricela Aguirre

11th grade, Golden Gate High School JROTC

Battalion Executive Officer

A trip to Washington, D.C.

Sounds simple.

But it is easier said than done.

On paper, a well-drawn out and detailed plan is something to be proud of, but you still have to execute your actions.

For months, 35 cadets worked long hours and multiple community events to qualify for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Washington. This is the fourth time in five years that Golden Gate High School’s JROTC program took this educational and life-changing voyage.

The morning when we arrived, D.C. greeted us with a chilly embrace.

Our senior army instructor, Lt. Col. Paul Garrah, was our tour guide.

We reached our Army quarters and stared in awe and amazement as we realized we were staying in Fort Myer, an active military base located right next to Arlington National Cemetery.

That evening, our first sightseeing visit was to the superb and majestic U.S. Air Force Memorial, towering hundreds of feet and gleaming in the distance. The memorial left many cadets with open mouths and chills running down their arms.

Throughout our tour, various cadets gave briefings on iconic landmarks, memorials and monuments. Although briefings only lasted a couple of minutes, they managed to impact the hearts of every single person as well as teach our cadets a little something extra.

As we continued along, it seemed like our Capitol building and the Washington Monument were following right along with us. From every angle, they were just breathtaking. We also saw the Jefferson, Martin Luther King Jr., Lincoln, World War II, U.S Marine Corps War, Korean War Veterans, Vietnam Veterans and the Vietnam Women’s memorials.

We stopped at other locations including the Florida House, Library of Congress, the Holocaust and Smithsonian museums and the Pentagon.

We even visited the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis and met up with Rebecca Dolce, one of our former cadets who is a third-year midshipman. It was like a family reunion.

A sobering part of our trip was approaching the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in the evening. Illuminated from the ground up, the towering wall glowed in the darkness and everyone could see the thousands of names engraved into the famous landmark. As we made our way across the memorial, we weren’t surprised to see that huddled masses of roses lining the sides and patriotic flags waving in the breeze.

On another day, cadets solemnly marched in uniform down the paths that intersect Arlington National Cemetery. Paying the highest respect, cadets moved in silence down to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to witness the changing of the guard. As we lined up to see, Cadet Joshua Godwin graciously gave up his spot in line to a young boy, who in returned stared at him with thankful eyes and whispered a heartfelt “thank you.’’

After the ceremony, we were able to take a couple of minutes and personally engage with an active-duty tomb guard, who shared some very wise thoughts with us: “No one’s perfect, but our aim is perfection. The only way to reach the standard of perfection is by training.”

At the end of our discussion, our battalion commander, Tiare Velasco, presented him with Golden Gate High School’s very own coin of excellence.

After a very humbling walk through the cemetery, we visited the stables where the horses that pull the caissons were housed. As we learned of their roles in countless funerals, cadets were awe-struck at the professionalism of the soldiers who care for them.

As unfamiliar sights became familiar, our five-day journey was over in a flash. Our trip was more than educational; it was emotional, heartwarming and personal. Our trip to our nation’s capital opened our eyes to a vast culture that lies beyond our own backyard.

Golden Gate High School has once more left a mark on Washington, and vice versa.

A trip of this magnitude couldn’t have been accomplished without the immense help of Golden Gate High School’s booster club and our generous community.

We thank everyone who helped make it possible.

All our planning paid off.

© 2013 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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