Happy 4th of July 2014

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I love the American spirit and seeing all the photos and well wishes on social media today.

I love all the red, white, and blue. I love the BBQ and spending time with family and friends, and I love the magic and surprise and wonder of fireworks.

I like any form of celebration of life and seeing people come together to share good times and happy memories.

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This morning we watched the World Cup and exchanged Facebook messages with Wendy and Rob from the Netherlands. We learned they were in San Francisco and we figured out a way for us to get together today. We didn’t have any definite plans and were just taking the day as it came.

Today was an example of being thankful for being unscheduled and creating space for life to just flow, and it did. They were able to join us for an afternoon BBQ and to see the fireworks together.

We had a great time sitting on the back patio in the sunshine, enjoying conversation, drinks and appetizers before dinner.

Hope you had fun with family and friends, celebrating our freedom.

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Love and light.

Life is good.

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Red, White, and Blue

I keep getting asked if I am happy to be home, or if I wish I was still living overseas. This is a complicated question and there isn’t an easy answer. Overall, I say yes, I am happy to be home again in the United States, and more especially California, but I miss several aspects of the European, expat lifestyle as well.

I miss the friendships the most and the slower pace of life. I miss our travel around the world, exploring new lands and cultures and living in Holland and exploring and adapting to the local way of life the best I could.

Being away also made me appreciate all that is good in America. Sometimes the media makes it sound like America is broken, but I don’t believe all of it. For some reason, it seems normal to talk about all the negativity and I don’t understand that. I would like to see and share more stories about why America is great and why so many immigrants want to become citizens of this great country and all that it offers.

This morning there was an article in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that made me appreciate living here and proud to be an American. I am also thankful and proud to have European roots. They are not mutually exclusive. I just think its time to change the conversation and focus on what’s good again in the USA, and celebrate our roots too.

The WSJ article, “Why I Chose the Red, White and Blue,” by Philip Delves Broughton, mentions receiving a certificate of naturalization from President Obama after being sworn in as a citizen. It says, “Since our founding, generations of immigrants have come to this country full of hope for a brighter future, and they have made sacrifices in order to pass that legacy on to their children and grandchildren. This is the price and promise of citizenship. You are now part of this precious history, and you serve as an inspiration to those who will come after you.”

I believe this is a good reminder for all of us living here. We are part of the experience and creating history. We have a duty to one another to continue to do great things and to continue to make our country amazing. That comes from being of service, helping one another and working hard, doing the right thing. It also comes from being able to vote and to have a say in what we believe. There are so many things we do well and enjoy on this great land, like watching football games and bonding with our like minded friends who dress in the same team colors and root for the same team.

These are a few things that create happiness. I am happy to be home (and still miss Holland.)

Life is good.

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Day 108: Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial

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Today I am thankful for my husband and his passion for military history and geography and for sharing his passion with our family. I am thankful that he knows his way around and wanted to take us to see where General Patton was buried.

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In two days it will be Veteran’s Day and every year he takes the kids to a veteran’s cemetery or memorial so that we can be reminded of the sacrifice that was made for our freedom, and to honor his Granddad who served in WWII and survived.

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Every time we go, I get teary eyed and feel so emotional for the men (and women) who have fought in war and for their families and loved ones, who have also sacrificed. Today was no different.

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It was a foggy and misty day and seeing the cemetery in this light and with this ambience had an even bigger impact.

We imagined the soldiers fighting in and around Luxembourg with weather conditions worse than ours. It was quiet and peaceful and eerie. We also visited the German cemetery and noticed quite a few differences. Charlie and I made a few observations:

1. There were Crosses and the Star of David marking different burial sites, but there were several more crosses than stars.

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2. The Jewish tombstones had little stones on top. These are a custom to show that a family member had visited.
3. The names of the men came from several different states.

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4. One man died on Christmas Day.
5. There were names that represented several different nationalities.
6. The American cemetery was perfectly groomed and balanced and neat. The German cemetery was not well maintained and had a dreary and dark feel to it, even though it was still beautiful and quiet.

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7. The American tombstones had one name per tomb and were made of smooth, white stone. The German tombstones had four names per stone and were made of a rough, dark stone.

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8. A few of the tombs had beautiful bouquets.

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9. General Patton’s tomb was at the head of the cemetery, almost like he was looking over all his men. It was in such an appropriate place.

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10. The American flag was flying and church bells rang out. I felt at home and was surprisingly so happy to see and hear colors and sounds from home.

Thank you to all the people who do good everyday, who choose the harder right, and create peace and love in their homes, in their community, in the military and wherever they go.

Namaste and peace.