On Saturday, October 20, 2012, Free Spirits from the class of 2000 to the class of 2012 came together for the first ever Free Spirit alumni reunion. Using the hashtag #freespiritreunion, they shared their anticipation and excitement.
Some Free Spirits had never seen the new Newseum. The class of 2006, for example, was only able to visit the construction site. Others were, for the first time in years, setting foot there again.
In the days leading up to the reunion, Free Spirits reminisced about their conference days.
Free Spirits checked in throughout the morning of the reunion, with reunions and introductions filling the entrance with handshakes and laughter.
Jack Marsh kicked things off by welcoming alumni who traveled from across the country, some from as far as California, to reconnect with old friends and make new ones. He introduced the Free Spirit team, thanked them for their commitment to bring alumni back together, discussed changes to the Free Spirit program, and emphasized the importance of the First Amendment.
The reunion would not have been the same without Al Neuharth. Free Spirits were excited to see Mr. Dream, Dare, Do himself there for the occasion.
The day was filled with lots of laughs, with Benzo Harris, Class of 2006, Tweeting a picture of himself from the mic before asking a question to Jan Neuharth, Al Neuharth, and Jack Marsh.
Although alums were invited to ask questions of the panel, the theme of the day turned out to be expressions of gratitude. For some of these Free Spirits, the conference was five or ten years ago, and to this day they cannot say enough about the impact the program had on them.
Here are two highlights from behind the mic:
And here are a few reactions from the crowd during the Q and A portion of the program:
Inspiration was a common theme in the conversation, in person and in the Twittersphere.
Classes were excited to reconnect.
The Class of 2005:
The Class of 2006:
The Class of 2008:
The Class of 2000 only had one representative there, but even Katie Aberbach Tweeted how glad she was to attend and mentioned how welcomed and inspired she felt.
After an afternoon of reconnecting over lunch, Free Spirits gathered on the terrace, before continuing to explore the Newseum.
And here is the final pose, before the video recorded Dream! Dare! Do! No matter where our paths have gone, we all share those Free Spirited qualities, and remembered just how much we have in common when we came together for the first time at the first ever reunion.