Lewis Frasier Middle School sixth-grader Liam Lyle still isn’t sure what he’d like to be when he grows up, but he recently got a glimpse at statesmanship when he attended President Barack Obama’s second inauguration.
“It was very fun and a once-in-a-lifetime chance,” Lyle said, adding that he’s interested in American military history and is a member of his school’s history club.
His journey was made possible through the People to People Inauguration Leadership Forum, which sent delegates from around the globe to attend the momentous occasion.
During its six-day trip, the group visited the National Mall and other destinations, such as the Jefferson, Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr., World War II, Korean and Vietnam Veterans’ memorials.
“A lot of the memorials I never expected to be that big,” Lyle said.
His group also laid a commemorative wreath at the burial place of President John F. Kennedy at Arlington Cemetery and toured George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon, the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, the International Spy Museum and the Newseum.
“I liked the Smithsonian part — the Air & Space, American History (museums),” Lyle said. He also wants to learn more about how presidential administrations have impacted the nation.
The People to People World Leadership Forum offers students a blend of specialized educational, leadership, and cultural exposure through a variety of programs and highlights of the hosting community.
Lyle’s mother, Janet Lyle, is a teacher at Taylors Creek Elementary School. She watched the inauguration ceremony while keeping an eye out for her son’s red hair.
“We weren’t close enough to actually see the president, but they were showing it on a big screen,” the student said about watching from the “crowded and loud” National Mall. Then they attended their own inaugural ball and visited with an Obama impersonator, “Hoaxbama.”
“It was worrisome,” Janet Lyle said about sending her son away. “But it was an experience, and the things that he was able to do are things that I wouldn’t have been able to do if I took him there. They have breakfast in the Smithsonian — a private breakfast — and they had dinner overlooking the Potomac with actors. I couldn’t have done any of that.”