Sunday, November 9, 2014

Touchdown in New York City!

Students re-enact Titanic on the ferry
It is about 11 p.m. over on the east coast, and I have to be up at 5 a.m., so this is going to be brief. On Friday, Nov. 7 at 1 p.m., Edgerton High School Band and Choir students departed for New York City. Last summer, Edgerton High School Band and Choir directors Valerie Gaffney and Kristin Skifton announced that their students had been selected to participate in the 95th annual Band of Pride Tribute and Veteran’s Day Parade.

The Edgerton community has rallied around the group, and the support was unbelievable. The $16,000 needed to purchase new choir uniforms was raised in a matter of weeks. And within the last year, donations totaling more than $80,000 for the trip have come flooding in. The Edgerton School Board approved more than $50,000 alone in the past two months. So when the students were boarding the bus to leave, it was no surprise that the community turned out to send them off. Students at the elementary school created handmade signs, and parents lined the streets to wave as the buses departed. Edgerton VFW members performed a gun salute before the buses left. The Depot Cafe wrote a message in chalk on their outside board, wishing the band and choir luck.

Me in front of Lady Liberty
Arriving in New York was a rather long affair, almost 19 hours (not including going forward one time zone). There was no rest for the weary, however, as students and chaperones needed to leave quickly to board the ferry for Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.

Our Lady of Liberty is more than 300 feet tall. If you take the ferry past, she looks pretty tall, but for the first time, I docked and was able to walk around. And in person, she is a very imposing and proud woman. Taking pictures of the students with our Lady in the background was fairly challening, partly because there were so many people and partly because she was almost too large to get in the same frame. We had a half hour before we had to leave, so there was no time to walk inside the statue. I’ll save that for next time. We were supposed to make a stop at Ellis Island, but time was of the essence (and we missed an earlier ferry) so we had to skip it. I’ll have to save that for next time.

From there, it was time to catch a subway to Little Italy/Chinatown. We enjoyed a delicious pasta dish and dessert before making our way to the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

I was there in April 2013 and saw the memorial pools, but the museum was a different experience. As I wandered through, it all came flooding back, and tears filled my eyes, although I kept them from overflowing. The video of the planes flying into the towers was horrifically mesmerizing, but what really got to me was a picture of three medical professionals. They had rushed to the scene and were prepared to help with the mass injuries that were expected....only they never came. Stretchers outside a nearby clinic remained vacant. There was no need for them. There were very few wounded from the collapse of the Twin Towers, and many dead.
The 9/11 Reflective Memorial pool at dusk
It was a history lesson for many of the students. As freshman to seniors, they would have been 2-5 years old when the terrorist attacks occured, much to young to really know what was going on. Touring the 9/11 Memorial Museum helped them understand. The videos, audio clips and artifacts can make it real for anyone. There were firefighters in the building helping evacuate people when the towers collapsed. One of the displays was a fire truck, half-crushed from the collapse.
By the time the group, including myself, checked in at the Hilton Hotel in New Jersey, it was around 9 p.m. I cannot speak for the students, but I was feeling pretty exhausted. Being on a bus for 20 hours and then touring for 12 hours? Sunday was going to be another busy day.

The half-crushed fire engine ladder truck

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