A group of students and adults from Valley and Kanab, and a few from other areas in Utah, traveled back to the east coast for a week to tour some of the nation’s most prominent historical places and monuments.

The students worked hard to fundraise for this trip, so they were excited to attend this American Heritage trip. The trip began on March 30, where the group flew out from Las Vegas, and ended on April 5.

Once everyone had claimed their luggage in Baltimore, the group boarded onto their motor coach and headed through the green Virginia countryside to their first destination.

The first historical spot for the group was Colonial Williamsburg. This town was a part time home for many of our nation’s greatest revolutionary leaders. The group had the opportunity to tour the village and see a few historic places in Williamsburg; the Governor’s Mansion and the College of William and Mary to name a couple.

The second day began with some extra time to sleep in. Once everyone was up and ready to go, the travelers headed west to visit Monticello, the beloved home of Thomas Jefferson. Monticello was Jefferson’s home for the final 56 years of his life and he spent 40 years building it, remodeling it, tearing parts down, and rebuilding.

The participants from Utah, as they roamed throughout the house, gained much respect for this smart man who was among the greatest to live in our country. After touring the home, the group had some time to walk through Jefferson’s elegant gardens and walk to his grave.

Then it was on to the historic Michie Tavern for lunch. This tavern was built and founded in 1784. The group was served some delicious old-style food and was loved by everyone.

The visitors drove on to the University of Virginia. The university was designed and established by Thomas Jefferson and is considered one of the most beautiful campuses in the U.S. Student guides took the group through the original areas of the university, explaining the philosophy and educational goals of Jefferson. After the tour, it was time to check into the hotel in Charlottesville.

April 2, the third day of the trip, was a fun one for the group. They first visited the famous Luray Caverns. These amazing caves – the largest in the eastern U.S. – had many astonishing formations.

After a tour of the caves, it was on to Harper’s Ferry, where John Brown made his famous raid during the build-up of the Civil War. Later, after a few hours of this step back into history, the group boarded the bus and traveled through the rolling verdant countryside of Pennsylvania before their final stop at Gettysburg.

The group checked into the hotel, and then they went to the historic Dobbin House Tavern, built in 1776. During dinner, they were visited by Abraham Lincoln, who explained the importance of events that transpired in Gettysburg.

In the morning, the American Heritage group visited and reenacted one of the saddest chapters in American history. The Battle of Gettysburg is considered the turning point of the Civil War where citizens, families and friends, fought against each other to determine what our nation would be, and what it would ultimately represent.

The group first visited the visitor’s center where they watched a film about Gettysburg. They had the amazing chance to visit the Cyclorama to feel and learn of the devastating few minutes encompassing Pickett’s famous charge.

They re-boarded the bus and visited the actual battlefield, where it all took place. The group was able to see places such as Little Roundtop, the battlefield of Pickett’s charge, where the battle first began, and many other famous places.

After the tour of this historic battleground, the group headed onto Fort McHenry, where Francis Scott Key wrote our national anthem while watching the British warships shell the fort throughout the night. It was a short stop at the fort. Afterwards, the group had the great chance of attending a major league baseball game between the Boston Red Sox and the Washington Nationals. The Red Sox won, 6-1.

The next day, April 4, was another enjoyable day. The day kicked off with a tour of Mt. Vernon, the home of George Washington. Mt. Vernon was George Washington’s favorite place on earth and the group gained an understanding of why he loved it so much as they toured the picturesque grounds. The place had a home with an excellent view of the Potomac River.

After some ample time at Mt. Vernon, the group headed into the nation’s capital for the first time. They first stopped at the White House to take pictures. Then they were given some free hours to visit many of the historic spots in the Washington, D.C. area.

Among their choices were a visit to the Holocaust Museum, the Smithsonian Museums, the Washington Monument, the National Archives, and Ford Theater. The group stopped at Arlington National Cemetery, the resting place of thousands of brave soldiers and many famous dignitaries.

The group had the opportunity to watch the simple yet touching changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, one of the highlights of the trip.

After the tour of the national cemetery, the group was given a little more extra time to visit the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam War Memorial, and the Korean War Memorial.

The next day was the final day in the east. To kick it off, the group toured the nation’s capitol building, where much of the framework and fabric of our country are determined. Afterwards, they could visit the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court Building.

After a lunch stop at Union Station, the group traveled to Annapolis and toured one of the most historic campuses in our great nation, the U.S. Naval Academy. The visitors learned of the discipline, dedication, and pride installed into the lives of the midshipmen during their time at the Academy.

Now it was off to the airport for the flight home. Most of the group arrived home at five the next morning, exhausted. They all had a great time and learned a lot about our nation.

The following were the participants of this trip: Jordan Crofts, Lindsay Rose, Hayden Harris, Lane Sorensen, Lance Maxwell, Addie Bistline, Kenzi Spencer, Bryar Spencer, Bart Spencer, Shane Baird, Dason Ott, Jessika Houston, Bert Harris, David Maxwell, Jamie and Dave Spencer, Kaynita Spencer, Donald and Deone Baird, Kamie Lee Houston, Kevin and Jana Maxwell, Laretta Crofts, Arlene and DarLynn Sorensen, Becka Ott, Brian and Jeanie Goulding, Bobby and Charlene Swapp, Bob and Marilyn Jensen, Darwin and Bonnie Crawford, Bruce and Bonnie Harris, Gaylene Ott, Janea Janke, Dana and Colleen Andrus, Mary Jo Beatty, Marsha Rosenberg, Larry and Rebecca Stubbs, April Gifford, and of course, our amazing guide, Gene Drake.

This trip would not have been possible without Gene and the many hours and money he put into taking us on this trip. We are so grateful. Thank you Gene! You’re amazing!