By Bill Robinson
The 18 students who accompanied Clark-Moores Middle School teacher Sharon Graves to Washington, D.C., for President Barack Obama’s second inauguration stood in the cold for about eight hours to watch the president and vice president drive down Pennsylvania Avenue and watch the entire parade.
The group of 16 eighth-graders, plus one seventh- and one ninth-grader, and their two chaperones stood in front of the Federal Trade Commission building, Graves said.
Unlike some other nearby student groups who retreated at times to the warmth of Washington subway stations, the Madison County students did not want to miss anything, she said.
“We knew the president and vice president were coming when the helicopter flew over the parade route,” Graves said.
Next to seeing the nation’s top two elected officials, the students were impressed by the sight of a contingent of West Point cadets and a fife-and-drum corps dressed in colonial costumes marching by, their teacher said. The youngsters also were intrigued by the snipers positioned as a security precaution atop buildings along the parade route.
Today was not the first time the students caught a glimpse of the president, Graves said. On Sunday, as they visited Arlington National Cemetery, they saw the president driving to a wreath-laying ceremony at the cemetery.
In addition to visiting the nation’s largest national cemetery Sunday, which is the final resting place of President John F. Kennedy, the students also visited Ford’s Theater where President Abraham Lincoln was shot, the U.S. Marine Corps’ Memorial and the Pentagon 9/11 memorial.
They expected to visit the World War II and Martin Luther King Jr. memorials later Monday or early Tuesday, Graves said. They also have arranged to visit newly elected U.S. Rep. Andy Barr (R-Ky., 6th District) in his office Tuesday.
The students left Richmond at 8 p.m. and rode all night on a tour bus to arrive in Washington at 7:14 a.m. Saturday and then take in some historic sites.
The were up at 5:45 a.m. Monday, ate breakfast, got off their bus at the Verizon Center where the Washington Capitals and Georgetown Hoyas play basketball, then walked a mile to reach Pennsylvania Avenue at 7 a.m.
Everyone had to pass through metal detectors to reach the parade route, Graves said.
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