The Honors Program spring trip to Baltimore was the perfect weekend getaway from the confines of the dormitory, but more importantly it was life transforming.
It was an unseasonably warm February weekend – the snow was nearly melted, and you could feel the sun on your neck during the day and a chill at night. We stayed by the Harbor, a hub livened with people and music with a beautiful view of the Chesapeake Bay. However, it wasn’t the atmosphere that left the greatest impression, it was the people and the history. While Baltimore’s greatest mark of history may have been written in its streets during the Civil War, history continues to take shape day to day with the people who call Baltimore their home.
A group of friends and I chanced taking a trip to Fort McHenry before the national park closed for the day. We ran into a man who fought in the navy in Iraq.
Although the conversation began with questions about the Civil War, it ended with my worldview challenged. Recounting his stories from the war, he explained that once you have seen war and traveled, your beliefs are either changed or strengthened. He then questioned our beliefs about immigration, religion, and politics. Even though his positions on the issues were radically different from mine, my perception of the world was sharpened. The importance of history is to know not only where you come from, but to learn about the world around you and where it is headed.
Riding the bus back to the hotel, I thought about the career I am preparing for. I will be challenged day to day in the field of journalism from the ethical standards in media writing to my personal beliefs. Nonetheless, my passion for journalism intensified, as well as my desire to travel. There are places and people to see, and stories must be uncovered and written. Our experiences may shape our beliefs, but we are the ones holding the pen that writes our history. It is what we choose to do with our lives and our words that have the greatest impact.
By the end of our conversation at Fort McHenry, the park closed, and we barely caught a glimpse of the fort. We didn’t have to talk to the man from the navy, and he didn’t have to talk to us about his beliefs, but we chose to. Out of everything that happened on the trip, that one moment was the one I am thankful for the most.