University of Illinois comes to Washington D.C.

Wow, this summer is really flying by, as I hope it is for all of the incoming students who are excited about attending the University of Illinois this fall.  Get pumped, it’s gonna be challenging but amazing!


This past weekend I had a crazy adventure.  My girlfriend took a semester off from the University in order to pursue a journalism internship in Washington D.C.  As a journalism major, she has been having the time of her life covering everything from press conferences at the White House to events at the Capital Building.  I was so proud of her and felt extra special to be with her as she flashed her press pass to get me clearance to tour the Capital Building with her.  She planned an amazing trip for me.  Not only did we attend a concert given by the Air Force Band beside the Washington Monument before the Fourth of July fireworks, but the following day we also got to visit some famous sites of John Phillip Sousa!!!!!!  We started by visiting his gravesite.  I’m sure that Sousa was thrilled to have visitors from the University of Illinois (he did dedicate a march to us and gave us the title of “World’s Greatest College Band”).  I felt a special connection knowing that Sousa liked the University of Illinois so much that he gave the majority of his artifacts and original scores to the band department (a fact I really wanted to dangle over the tour guide’s head at the Library of Congress—“Excuse, could you please tell me where the John Phillip Sousa artifacts are located?  Oh really?  That’s all?  Where is everything else?  The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign?  I had no idea!”—but I didn’t.  I also wanted to ask him if he could tell me some of the other locations of Guttenberg Bibles….).

At John Phillip Sousa’s grave


After visiting his gravesite we went on a walking tour of John Phillip Sousa’s old neighborhood.  When I make my fortune as a middle school band director, maybe I can have the house where he was born moved to the University of Illinois and couple it with the artifacts from the Center for American Music to create the ultimate Sousa/American Music Museum experience.  Right.  It did appear that the house was privately owned.  How awesome would it be to live in Sousa’s house?!?!

 House where John Phillip Sousa was born

Ok, so now I’m getting a little bit creepy.  While my girlfriend and I were at the cemetery we ran into these two college students who were just looking for something to do.  We invited them to join us on the aforementioned walking tour.  During our tour, we obviously had to explain why I was drooling over a house with a pink front door, pink shutters, and decorative music lyres built into the railing.  In the process we ended up doing a lot of bragging about programs at Illinois, the campus, and the surrounding community.  I felt like we were giving some sort of speech on a commercial, but we couldn’t help it. 


As we both begin our final year at the University, I hope that those just beginning will look to overcome any obstacles, be they difficult course loads or simply a class that you don’t like, and really enjoy your time as much as we have.




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