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Happy Fourth of July

Spotlight on Community

America the Beautiful

Genie in a Bottle

If a genie came out of a bottle and gave me one wish, I'm afraid my selfish streak would come out. I know I should ask for world peace, to stop hunger in the world or to put an end to the natural disasters which harm so many people and so much property, so let's modify the fantasy.

Let's say the genie showed up up and offered me a wish, but it had to be something for me specifically. Then I could make my wish and not be guilt-ridden as I enjoyed it. My fondest wish would be to take a trip and see the whole world - luxuriously. I'm fortunate to have traveled to more places than most people ever get the chance to, but travel remains my primary passion. I just can't see enough.

White River Falls, Oregon

Proud to be an American

At the same time, I am a proud American. I love my country. I'm not oblivious to her warts and freckles, but I don't let them cloud my vision. That's getting harder and harder to do as the political rhetoric seems to heat up more and more each day, but I keep my eye on the big picture and then I have to say, "What's not to love?"

America is beautiful. Casting my mind to the Pacific Northwest, I think of White River Falls in Oregon. You've probably never heard of it, but of all my travels around America, those few moments, spent beside the White River's triple falls can bring more serenity, than all the more famous places like the Grand Canyon or Yosemite. Oh I love those iconic vistas, but the America I love best can be seen from a bench on Moonstone Beach, along the trails of Montana de Oro, beside Sedona's Oak Creek.

Americans are Good People

It's not just our land that is noteworthy. It's also our people. I grimace as statues of Robert E. Lee are pulled down, not because I am a white supremacist, but because I love history. Certainly, Robert E. Lee was a slave holder and the general of the CSA during our Civil War, but he is not the devil some would have us believe. He was heartbroken to be forced to choose a side, because he loved his nation - his whole nation. As soon as the war was over he actively worked to heal the breech the war had caused and that's the reason his statue was placed in so many places - not because he represented the cause of slavery, but because he stood for hope of an America healed from the scars of war.

I encourage you to get know the Americans around you. Social media may feature media-fanned hate speech, but those loudmouths are the exception to the rule. Look past them. See the families fostering children, people volunteering at food banks, doctors providing free medical care all over the world and all the other folks who are pitching in and giving others a hand up. Look at the wonderful museums, concert halls and gardens kept alive with donations and volunteers. I'm thinking of a historical home in the South once owned by Coca Cola distributor, a mansion in Miami built by the founder of a tractor company and our own Dallas Arboretum on the site of a brilliant oilman whose family gave the site to be enjoyed by everyone. These people worked hard to make America a great place and now that their lives are over, they are still enriching our nation. Think of these people, rather than the faces on the evening news.

If you look past the obvious and turn a deaf ear to the politics, you'll have mind and heart enough to explore our great country and the people who populate it. So go out and have a picnic on Tuesday, watch the fireworks or whatever you enjoy on a holiday, but when the official celebration is over, keep celebrating our beautiful country and its wonderful people.

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