Philadelphia: “United We Stand, Divided We Fall”


Me in front of Independence Hall

Me in front of Independence Hall

This past weekend, I traveled to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with the SUNY Oswego History Club. The club takes a trip to a historic location every year. Last year, we went to Washington, D.C. and that was a lot of fun for me, so after visiting the national capital one year, I visited the old U.S. capital this year. Although, I did not expect some things to happen on this trip.

After four straight weeks of traveling, Oswego to Alabama, to Memphis, Tennessee, back to Alabama, back to Oswego, down to Binghamton and back, and then to Philadelphia and back, I’ve got 4,000 miles under my belt, 95 percent of them from activities I’ve done through SUNY Oswego. Traveling and staying with groups for long periods of time always causes a little tension somewhere on these trips. Philadelphia was no exception.

By the time we ventured back into the historic city on Saturday morning, we hit that point. The driver of our car was not used to driving in big city traffic and everyone clashed on where they wanted to go and where they wanted to park, and how far they were willing to walk, and how much this parking garage charged and when it closed. On top of that, everyone’s GPS’s sent us on many goose chases the whole weekend. By the time we finally parked the car, there was still so much tension that everyone split up and did their own thing for the majority of the day.

That was, until the phone call came.

Me at the Benjamin Franklin Institute

Me at the Benjamin Franklin Institute

My friend and I were examining the last piece of tourism we wanted to see that weekend, the grave of my hero, Dr. Benjamin Franklin at Christchurch Cemetery, when someone from one of the other groups called me. I was able to understand the name of one of our group members and “seizure,” “running,” and “hospital.” I gave the phone to my friend to try to make out what was going on but we figured it out pretty fast. One of our group members fainted in one of the museums and had a seizure. Museum security guards called 911 and sent an ambulance while the remaining members of that group ran ten blocks through downtown Philadelphia to the hospital. Now it was our turn. After already walking seven miles and digesting a Philly cheese steak, my friend and I did our own jog through downtown to find the hospital. We contacted the other members of our group to tell them the update, and they made their way to the hospital themselves.

Less than an hour later, after spending the whole day our separate ways, we were all reunited, not in one of the rental cars as we expected, but an emergency room. And all of that tension and yelling that had occurred earlier was suddenly swept away, completely forgotten, because it didn’t matter anymore. What mattered was that we were a crew with a missing member, one that was getting a CT scan in a hospital in a different state of residence, 300 miles from home, 18 hours before we were scheduled to leave for home.

We were all together again, not arguing about silly things like parking, but asking each other what we could do to help and how to keep our injured member’s parents updated, keeping everyone calm, and figuring out how long of a wait it would be.

It made me really think. It’s amazing how when a crisis hits, people just forget all of their differences, because when a crisis happens, there’s one thing everyone has in common: they’re all in a crisis. And when you’re in a group, if not everyone is present, it messes everyone up.

Our member spent the night at the hospital and we visited her in the morning, bought flowers and a card for her, and finally she was released. With that, we made our way back to SUNY Oswego, as a whole, with everyone on-board and safe, and remembering what the important things in life are.

History Club in front of the Rocket Steps

History Club in front of the “Rocky Steps”

About the Author

Luke Parsnow is a senior, double majoring in Journalism and Creative Writing and minoring in History with a concentration in American. He is the News Editor and weekly writer for The Oswegonian, the student newspaper of SUNY Oswego, as well as a Student Blogger for the school's website. He has interned at The Legislative Gazette in Albany and The OSWEGO Alumni Magazine. He is currently interning for WRVO Public Media. Luke is also a multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter and travels with two bands to play venues from central New York and Canada to western Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Tennessee.
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