Grant Sends Military Teens to Washington

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The program allowed the teens to see in person those symbols of democracy for which their parents fight, and for which they, too, have sacrificed through frequent moves and dealing with deployed parents.

These were no ordinary tours of the Capitol and Washington's other monuments. Under Close Up's civics curriculum, the teens' visit to the World War II, Korean and Vietnam War memorials included a discussion about the role and responsibilities of citizens during wartime. Their tour of the Capitol included meeting with their congressional representatives, and a trip to the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial came with a discussion of civil rights and citizens' roles in shaping public policy.

Through it all, the teens took part in group discussions about the appropriate size and role of government in a democracy, states versus the federal government, and an in-depth simulation of the legislative process. The teens also met with Attorney Gen. Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, as well as senior Defense Department and White House officials, McCartney said.

"Close Up is really a hands-on experience here in Washington, D.C. It's a very organized curriculum," he said. "Everything has education and civics attached to it."

The participants also were charged with developing a plan to address important issues in their own communities. Judging by their reaction to being in Washington, it sounds like they will do just that.

"These kids were outstanding, and they truly were grateful for this," McCartney said.