It can be surprisingly easy to neglect the history and symbolism of July 4th, otherwise known as Independence Day, when surrounded by family and friends, a picnic table full of delicious summer treats and an explosion of red, white and blue fireworks.
The rhythmic nature of our daily routines and habits does not lend itself to a full appreciation of the basic principles and values upon which our country was founded – including freedom, security and lawful order – particularly when we have never encountered an experience that denies us those very things.
It was an unexpected sequence of events in Italy several years ago that led me to this stark realization, where I not only gained a greater understanding of the cultural and societal norms of another country, but developed a newfound appreciation for “all things good” in America and was reminded of how much there is to be thankful for in this great “land of the free, home of the brave.” Read more
“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” –Miriam Beard
It’s an age-old adage: traveling broadens our perspective, transforming our sense of self in relation to the world at large, challenging us to see with new eyes and deepening our sense of gratitude and appreciation as we gain insight into the culture, customs and traditions of an unfamiliar place.
I was recently reminded of this after a visit to O’ahu, Hawai’i where I was bewildered each time I remembered that I wasn’t in a foreign land, but was, instead, still in the United States – albeit in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, nearly 2,500 miles away from the mainland.
Surrounded by a kaleidoscope of blue and turquoise waters, swaying palm trees, volcanic craters, green mountainous terrain and tourists from all over the world, it was hard to grasp that Hawai’i isn’t a nation of its own. Indeed, never before have I visited another U.S. state feeling utterly transported into a different “realm”, as if I was a foreigner navigating an unknown territory. Read more