By: Ellen Graves The Choctaw Plaindealer
Alison Cooper had the chance of a lifetime to visit the nation’s capital in Washington, D.C as a 4-County Electric Power Association delegate for the 2012 Youth Tour that was held June 16-22. Over 50 other high school juniors went to Washington, D.C. as part of Mississippi’s delegation.
Each day of the weeklong trip was packed with sightseeing activities that revealed our nation’s history in a new light for the participants.
“It brought it to life,” said Cooper. “Especially Mt. Vernon, I couldn’t believe I was standing where George Washington once stood.”
From watching the play “Shear Madness” at the Kennedy Center to visiting the Capitol, Cooper had the opportunity to experience it all.
One of Cooper’s favorite memorials was the Lincoln Memorial. “It was my favorite because it’s so massive and you’re so small. Everything was huge and ornate,” said Cooper.
Cooper also had the chance to visit the Smithsonian Institution, which is the world’s largest museum.
“I loved the Natural History Museum at the Smithsonian. It has dinosaur bones and animals from around the world,” said Cooper. “I really like the gems exhibit too. The Hope Diamond was really big and pretty. It is crazy how giant some of the stones are, especially the emeralds.”
Not only did Cooper get the full Washington, D.C. tour, but was able to interact with hundreds of other National Rural Electric Cooperative Association delegates.
“I was able to grow the friendships that started in Jackson. I’ve already seen some of the people since then and plan to see them in the future,” said Cooper.
Cooper was even able to see our nation’s policy makers in action at the Capitol. The Youth Tour delegates were taken on a tour of the Capitol and met with Mississippi’s senators and representatives including Thad Cochran and Alan Nunnelee. The tour delegates were also able to visit the National Cathedral, which has been the site of the memorial and funeral services of nearly all the 21 U.S. presidents since 1893 and is famous for its beautiful architecture.
Cooper explained their tour guide said “awesome” would be the word to describe it but once you saw inside, the word awesome would have a new meaning.
“As soon as I walked inside, my eyes went up because the stained glass is so beautiful. The stained glass had different scenes and there was even a space themed one with a moon rock in it,” said Cooper.
The Arlington National Cemetery was a very touching experience for Cooper and the rest of the delegates. They were able to witness the changing of the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and visited the eternal flame at John F. Kennedy’s gravesite.
Cooper admitted she had been a little apprehensive about riding an airplane to Washington, D.C. for the first time but is glad she did. “I would fly anywhere now,” said Cooper.
“Through every new experience in life, you gain new friendships and new insights and they help you grow as a person,” said Cooper.
Prior to the Youth Tour, Cooper participated in the Youth Leadership Workshop in Jackson, sponsored by the Electric Power Associations of Mississippi. Cooper competed with 15 other high school juniors in 4- County’s service area for the honor to participate in the program.