First we stood in line for an hour outside and in amongst a huge crowd of unruly teenagers who had to be shushed several times by the burly guard. Finally it was our turn to look at pale sheets of paper under glass that men have fought and died for: the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution of the United States.
We pointed out the pale signatures of John Hancock and John Adams, and then looked closely for the name of the only Catholic to sign the Declaration of Independence, Charles Carroll of Carrollton. Unfortunately his signature has faded from sight on the original document, as have many others. While this wasn't the most thrilling of field trips for the children, I felt it was important for them to get a sense of the importance of these documents, especially at a time when some politicians feel that they should be discarded and ignored.