Camillo and I travel back and forth to the USA, a lot, but have not really taken a trip cross-country since when we lived in Houston and then those trips were pretty much limited to Texas. Since living in Brasil, some 9 years now, we fly into Houston, visit family and friends, fly to visit my mother and then fly home. There has been no real sense of the US, its size, its people and the changes that are occurring. We have traveled in Brasil, in France and in Italy more often and for longer periods. This trip I wanted to show Camillo the real America.
Looking back over my photos from the drive from Washington DC to Adrian, Michigan – by way of the Hudson Valley, I could feel, again, the lump in my throat that rose up when we exited the subway station in Washington and saw the flags flying high along the roof tops, over the doors and window, and all along the sidewalks. The lump attacking again, and again as we viewed the monuments that line the National Mall; as we admired the circle of flags at the base of the Washington Monument and while standing beside the beautiful Vietnam Women’s Memorial, and as I turned to watch the long line of mourners passing beside the Vietnam memorial, stopping to touch the name of a loved one as they moved slowly along. Was it the cool, whet wind blowing that made my eyes overflow with tears or feeling, in that moment, so proud to be an American?
As we traveled Southwest to Northeast, passing through countryside filled with well maintained farms, small lakes, tall forests turning from muted greens to the bright colors of fall, and driving along grand highways, and even more, small curvy country roads, in my mind the pride I’d felt in my homeland persisted. And by the time we arrived in Adrian the emotions had changed once more. My thinking went from pride in the memorials we’d built to our heroes, to the wonder at the architecture that had stood the test of time and weather, to a renewal in my understanding that what makes The United States great is the heart of its people. Their politeness, their willingness to go beyond duty to help, to guide, and their ability to show kindness to strangers. This is what makes America strong
A Special thanks to the ‘volleyball goddess’ of Bethlehem, PA – who after finding us (completely) lost in an Allentown parking lot, our Google map having led us a merry chase, took one look at our exhausted faces said, “follow me” leading us to our destination instead of merely rattling off ‘go left, right, left...’ directions. (There is that dratted lump again.)
And More: The shuttle van driver in Rockville MD – the young man taking the long way around, off his route, to drop us at a drugstore, making sure we know how to get to the subway station from there, worrying that he needed to do more to make sure we were safe and on our way.
And the night clerk in the Bethlehem hotel offering to order Pizza in for us, looking through her maps to find our next days route, asking other’s staying there to find us change for the laundry, offering a big smile to end our day.