Freedom Through My Eyes 2012

The 2012 Freedom Through My Eyes Winners in Washington DC

This February, the Lakers and Lakers Youth Foundation continued their tradition as “champions on the court and in the community” by sponsoring a trip to Washington DC for winners of the sixth annual Lakers “Freedom Through My Eyes” Art/Essay Contest. The contest was open to all Los Angeles County middle school students, and challenged the students to explore their thoughts about freedom by writing an essay and creating an original piece of artwork. Congratulations to this year’s winners: Hannah Ramzi, Damien Flores, Katia Asencio, Francisco Gudino, and Ayline Rebollo. The trip’s highlights included tours to iconic national monuments like the White House, the Capitol Building, the National Archives and Arlington National Cemetery, as well as unique Washington DC attractions like the Newseum and International Spy Museum.

On the winner’s first day in DC they began their visit by touring the three building that encompass the three branches of government; the White House, the United States Capitol and the Supreme Court. By viewing all of these prestigious buildings it helped to build a foundation for the trip and to see where our country’s leaders make the laws, enforce the laws and interpret the laws. The big excitement of the day happened while touring the White House. A helicopter landed directly outside the window of the “Red Room.” The tour essentially stopped, so those on the tour could peer out the window in hopes of seeing the President. President Obama was not on the helicopter but it did make for an interesting site.


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The next day of sightseeing was filled with our history’s written word. The day began with a tour of the National Archives, led by Special Assistant to the Archivist Sam Anthony. The winners were able to see the Declaration of Independence, Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights. Mr. Anthony had a wealth of knowledge about all of the documents housed at the National Archives and at the regional archive centers around the country. After the National Archives tour the group headed to the Newseum, a private museum that tells the story of our nation’s historic events and culture through the lens and pen of the journalist. That evening, the group gathered for a delicious dinner and shared stories of what they had seen so far in our nation’s capital.

On the third day the group began with a visit to the somber and sacred grounds of Arlington National Cemetery, where over 300,000 American veterans are buried. In between Arlington National Cemetery and heading to the African American Civil War Museum, the winners were treated to a Washington DC culinary landmark, Ben’s Chili Bowl. A wide variety of politicians and celebrities have feasted at Ben’s, even our current President, Barack Obama. The evening brought one of the highlights of the tour, a twilight bus tour of Washington DC’s many monuments, including: the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Wall, and Korean War Memorial. Each monument or memorial was particularly stunning when illuminated at night and that made for great photo opportunities.

On the final morning of the trip, the group visited Ford’s Theatre to see the site of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. Then it was on to the International Spy Museum, where the winners and their chaperones participated in Operation Spy, an hour-long role playing game in which the winners were asked to thwart a terrorist plot by using their powers of observation and logic. The group continued their winning tradition by successfully protecting our country!

The fifth annual Freedom Through My Eyes trip was a blast for all involved! The winners had a chance to see their nation’s grand monuments, learn about the nation’s history and view democracy in-action. Everyone brought back souvenirs, memories, and a greater perspective on all the challenges and sacrifices that are required to keep freedom alive.