Friday, May 10, 2019

Senior Trip, Day 2: "History is Happening in Manhattan"

     Another full day here in New York City with our crew of seniors from Greenville Christian School!  After the very long (or, as I spelled it in my journal entry, "LOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNGGGGGGG) day yesterday, we slept in a bit - till after 7 AM anyway - and then came downstairs and got our free breakfast, which was not bad as such things go, although it was a long shot from IHOP!  After eating and making sure everyone was ready, we headed out and boarded the New York Subway once more.  Our destination this time:  The 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

   I remember that day so vividly, a Tuesday morning when my normal routine of teaching was shattered by events two thousand miles away.  Most of these graduating seniors were babies when it happened.  The reflecting pools surrounded by the names of all the victims are a somber reminder of the cost America paid for hatred that day.  The Museum is beautiful, sobering, and catches the full extent of the grief and sorrow of that fateful day. The one thing missing, to my mind, was the righteous anger we all felt in the wake of the attacks.  This wasn't a natural disaster; it was a deliberate act by people who hated this country and all it stands for.  I'm not saying that, as a nation, we should still be consumed with anger and thoughts of vengeance, but at the same time it wouldn't hurt to memorialize what we actually felt at the time rather than some sanitized version thereof. OK, off the soap box now.  The Museum and the area around it are truly worth the time spent there, and I wish we could have stayed there a bit longer.  But there was a lot else to see in lower Manhattan, so off we went.

   As we left the Trade Center area, I was overwhelmed by just how huge "Freedom Tower" is. This is the huge skyscraper built near the site of the Twin Towers, and it dominates the NYC skyine as they once did, dwarfing every other building in the city.
Next stop was Trinity Church, a beautiful American icon that stands a few blocks from the WTC.  The current sanctuary was built in 1730. George Washington attended church there, as did many famous figures of the Revolutionary and Founding eras.  This is also the spot where Alexander Hamilton and his wife are buried.  I have a fascination with Hamilton that goes far beyond my fondness for the Broadway musical about him.  He has long been my favorite founding father, and since January I have been living inside his head as I write an alternative history novel about him.  Standing near his grave was a very moving moment for me, and I told him that I hope I am doing his memory some justice with my literary efforts.  As tradition requires, I left a penny on his grave as we departed.

   Still walking southward, we next came to Wall Street, where we posed for a picture with the famous bull statue.  At Battery Park we spread out and ate lunch and did a bit of shopping; after that we boarded the ferry for the Statue of Liberty.  That was where we encountered our only really bad weather of the day; it rained on us pretty hard for about 45 minutes.  We took a series of soggy selfies, then hopped back on the ferry and headed for Ellis Island.  There we toured the immigration museum and wandered the lovely grounds, taking many pictures of the New York skyline.  By then the sun had come out, drying our clothes and lifting our spirits.  That done, we boarded the subway and headed back up to 48th street to rest at our hotel for a bit.

   We then headed out for our first "dressy" event of the trip: Dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe followed by the Broadway musical ALLADIN.  Honestly, the food was fairly mediocre, but the atmosphere of the place was wonderful, plus it's on Broadway!  We took a ton of pictures and then walked a block or two over and went in for the show.  ALLADIN was far and away the flashiest musical I have ever attended; the stage efffects and illusions were amazing, and the acting was first-rate.  Everyone loved the villainous Jafar and his bumbling sidekick Iago, and both leads were perfectly cast.  After a wonderful evening, we headed back to the hotel, stopping at the convenience store we visited last night to get soda and snacks, then came on back here for the evening.

22,000 steps walked today. We're getting lazy.

Funny stuff?  Let's see, Jerry remains the king of the "made you look" game, although I was able to beat him at it a couple of times.  Rebekah Shreve falls for it EVERY time, though, and he teases her relentlessly.   I thought that Becca Davis was going to belt a lady who body-checked her on the sidewalk, and Sam Pitts stunned us all, especially his girlfriend Zoe, when he said that Aladdin's abs were "the most distracting thing in the show."  Mikayla said she'd seen more of "the alphabet people"  (LGBTQ) in the last two days than she has in her entire previous life, and Camden was pretty sure he saw a homeless guy snorting cocaine on the street.  (I tried explaining to him that homeless people generally snort bath salts, but you can't tell these kids anything these days!)

School may be over for these young folks, but the education continues.  More tomorrow.

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