Happy Independence Day!

Posted In: Blog, Camping Abroad

by Sean Michael

Happy Independence Day to my fellow Americans! As I write this blog update, we are camping in Canada. I’m almost 40 years old, and this is the first time I’ve been outside our country on this important day. It feels a little strange to be outside the United States on the 4th of July.

Kristy in Washington D.C.

Kristy in Washington D.C.

And yet perhaps it is also strangely appropriate. How so? It may sound counterintuitive, but one of the key reasons why I travel abroad is to learn more about the United States. It’s all about perspective. I’ve never traveled to another country without gaining a greater appreciation of my own country. Visiting other countries has made me better appreciate the United States, its unique history, and the incredible opportunities it offers. Even while visiting Canada, our friendly North American neighbor, this holds true.

On the Manhattan ferry that runs past the Statue of Liberty...

On the Manhattan ferry that runs past the Statue of Liberty...

From 1992 to 1993, I earned $120 a month teaching English in Czechoslovakia. This was shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of communism in Central Europe. Although much was changing in the area, much had not yet changed. I lived in a Stalinist housing project called Petrzalka, and got to experience communism and socialism firsthand on a daily basis. Government intruded at every turn, and a visit to the grocery store was about as efficient as a trip to your local DMV. I had to wait in six lines just to get a soda. (No joke!)

Decking out the NYSE with Old Glory.

Decking out the NYSE with Old Glory.

After returning from overseas, I remember feeling not only an enhanced sense of pride in the United States — but also gratitude. I began to understand that many of our patriotic indulgences are not only understandable but justified — we really are blessed to be citizens of such a unique democratic nation of constitutionally limited government — the first such republic in the history of mankind. Our greatest challenge as a nation is to be good stewards of what we’ve inherited, and not spoil the original intent for future generations.


Looking up at a red, white, and blue Empire State Building.

Although we’re a little homesick for traditional 4th of July festivities (I’m thinking fireworks, barbecue, and beer), our thoughts are with the United States on this day. Happy 4th of July!

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