Patriotic Places

"My dream is of a place and a time where America will once again be seen as the last best hope of earth."  -Abraham Lincoln 

Relatively new to this state, it always shocks me when I discover how few of my fellow Californians have really traveled beyond San Diego or San Francisco.  Granted, this state has myriad sleepy beach towns and plenty of wilderness to explore, but the rest of America has so much history, culture and nature to offer us.  
Marion Anderson giving a concert in front of the Lincoln Memorial in 1939
A grand case of Francophilia aside, I believe it is an American obligation to see as much of this great land as we can.  Growing up in Missouri and getting educated in Tennessee and Texas has provided me that opportunity.  I feel immensely fortunate to have spent summers wading in Arkansas creeks, climbing in the caves of Chattanooga and warming my feet on the white sands of the Gulf Coast.  

One aspect of our amazing America that has always delighted my historic and artistic sensibility is our devotion to past presidents and patriotic figures.  Perhaps because the United States didn't have the ruins of previous Greek or Roman civilizations, perhaps because we never had towering Gothic cathedrals or Renaissance wonders, our country seems especially dedicated to preserving the stories of our forefathers (and a few "foremothers") through monuments and historic sites and national parks. (For more on this notion, read Wilderness and the American Mind by Roderick Nash)
The Washington Monument
As we Americans celebrate another Independence Day on Wednesday, I want to remember the places that help define us as a nation.  Those places where you can practically feel the ghosts of the past, where you can sense that "live free or die" spirit, and where you can pause and recognize the sacrifices and stories that built this country.  
Mt. Vernon

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