East Hardy High Senior Madalynn Payne felt like she was “walking through history” during her recent five-day trip to Washington, D.C., sponsored by Hardy
Telecommunications. Madalynn and Moorefield High Senior Benjamin Shirk traveled to our nation’s capital May 31-June 4 as part of the Foundation for Rural Service Youth Tour. Hardy paid all basic expenses for the two students and provided transportation.
“The (FRS Youth Tour) was a trip that I will never forget,” Madalynn wrote. “The trip also gave me the chance to see memorials and museums that I would not have been able to see otherwise. I felt like I was walking through history, and I realized that I am a small part of our history to come.”
The FRS Youth Tour is designed to teach rural youth about telecommunications while also giving them an opportunity to tour our nation’s capital. The trip included sightseeing as well as a visit to the Federal Communications Commission, where commissioners spoke and answered student questions. About 100 students from all over the United States participated in the tour.
Madalynn said the visit to the FCC gave her insight into the unique challenges faced by telecommunications providers in rural areas like Hardy County.
“The educational sessions opened my eyes to the struggles that rural telecommunications face and made me appreciate the service that Hardy Telecommunications provides,” she said.
In addition to the FCC and U.S. Capitol, the group visited the National Cathedral; Mount Vernon; Arlington National Cemetery; the Smithsonian Museums on the National Mall; the Vietnam, Korean, and World War II war memorials; the Marine Corps Iwo Jima Memorial; and the Lincoln Memorial.
Because the tour attracts youths from across the country, Madalynn also made many new friends from different areas.
“It allowed me to meet new people such as another student from my county, my roommate from Kansas, and a new friend from Texas. … Thank you, Hardy Telecommunications, for giving me this great opportunity.”
Madalynn wrote a poem about her Youth Tour experience. It is untitled and presented here in its entirety:
Walked past the graves of men who died for my freedom,
Watched as guards changed places to keep guard over the tomb of the unknown
Realizing how prestigious the positions those guards held were,
Looked down on the resting place of President Kennedy
Observing the eternal flame,
Stood in the grass of the National Mall
Wondering what it would have looked like full of Bonus Marchers,
Witnessed the life of a Jewish girl during the Holocaust
Hoping she would survive, but finding out that she was one of the many who did not,
Was one in the crowd at Union Station
Walking past many who were packed and ready to leave,
Went on a night tour of Washington, D.C.,
Gazed at the home of our President,
Stared up at the Washington Monument
Amazed that the same stone from the same quarry could be a different color after a few years wait during the Civil War,
Strolled past West Virginia’s marker indicating its contribution agriculturally to World War II,
Touched the names of those who died during the Vietnam War
And saw the statues of three men who represent the ethnicities of those who served,
Ambled through a memorial for the men who served during the Korean War
Feeling that I too should be given a pack and a radio to carry,
Looked at the faces of men and one dog etched into the reflective wall,
Climbed the steps to see President Lincoln in his iconic chair
And felt like I was in his gaze as I sat on the top step looking towards the Washington Monument and the Capitol.
Was given a tour of George Washington’s home,
Stood staring out over the Potomac River as he would have on many occasions,
Paused at the sleeping quarters of his many slaves and tried to imagine what it would have been like,
Walked paths that he would have walked on a daily basis,
Stood in the doorway of the room in which he died,
Strolled through the National Cathedral,
Saw a tiny piece of the moon encased in a stained glass window,
Stopped by the resting place of President Woodrow Wilson,
Was guided through the many chapels,
And stared at an organ that is large enough to fill the whole Cathedral with music.
Visited the Newseum,
Stood on both sides of the Berlin Wall
Realizing the oppression the wall became a symbol for,
Saw a piece of the Twin Towers and heard the story of a man who died while photographing the event,
Was amazed at the collection of front pages that told the story of 9-11,
Looked at newspapers from all the important events from the beginning of our nation’s history,
Was guided through the Capitol Building,
Stood on top of the place that was intended to hold George Washington after his death
But was told that President Washington’s will did not allow that,
Observed paintings that I had seen many times in my text books,
And was gazed down upon by statues given by every state to the collection in the Capitol.”