I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him. ~Abraham Lincoln (American President)
Love your country. Your country is the land where your parents sleep, where is spoken that language in which the chosen of your heart, blushing, whispered the first word of love; it is the home that God has given you that by striving to perfect yourselves therein you may prepare to ascend to him. ~Giuseppe Mazzini (Italian Politician)
We live in strange times. It seems that valuing one's country and origins is negatively associated with blind nationalism. In the United States, patriotism is increasingly treated with disdain and hostility. It could be said that people generally associate pride in one's country as a sign of backwardness and a token of the unrefined. I find this greatly disturbing.
Globalization has its benefits and I'm proud that Americans are becoming more well traveled and culturally aware. International travel is highly appealing to me and my generation. There has never been a time period in history where we could move so freely across the globe. Students, such as I, can cheaply travel around entire continents and gain new insights and perspective.
Having said that, I believe a traveler must know where he comes from: his homeland and country of origin. Being well-traveled isn't simply the sum of how many countries you've visited or how many miles you've traveled (or kilometers!). A great deal of people from this generation have visited many foreign countries yet have no idea what's in their backyard. Roam the world if you must, but remember where you came from. As for me, I am glad that I know and love my country. This recent road trip has furthered my appreciation for my home.
In a completely un-political way, I am proud to be an American. This does not mean I agree with every politician and policy of the country, indeed you will find me most critical of many of our politicians. This does not take away from my allegiance to our values and history. The more I travel, the more I love the place that I call home.
To the traveler, America is unique. There is simply no other place where one can freely travel the distances you can in this country and see nearly every ecosystem on Earth. I've traveled 11,000 miles (17,000km) in the past two years and I've seen it all. I've experienced the harsh beauty that is the deserts of California and Arizona. I've gazed across a hundred of miles of treeless landscape in Nevada's Great Basin where the night skies are the darkest on the continent. There is nothing quite as lush as the rain forest of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington and no coast quite as serene as Maine's. Southern hospitality is no lie and you can befriend just about anyone in the Midwest in a single conversation. I've felt the fear of God and the fury of a winter storm upon a hundred icy summits and known the peace of a clear mountain sunrise. There's something beautiful and wild to every state and place I visit.
I wish I could convey all I've seen through some artistic medium. A poem, a painting, or even a song would be more fitting than simple photography or writing. Perhaps I will pursue this someday.
All I can really say is that I encourage my generation specifically to get out there as see America for yourself. Stop watching the news and reading journals; they only highlight radicals and tragedies. Go somewhere new and take a hike, eat the food, meet the locals, experience some history, spend a night under the stars and learn about some place you've never been. I guarantee its better than what you've read or seen on TV. Please, don't just be a tourist, be a traveler- open-minded yet
willing to appreciate your own heritage. As the song says, this land is your land, this land is my land and whether you're an American or a traveler from abroad, enjoy what's been preserved for you
“The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” ~G. K. Chesterton (English Writer)
“People travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, the kind of people they ignore at home.” ~Dagobert D. Runes (Ukranian Philospher)
“A wise traveler never despises his own country.” ~Carlo Goldoni (Italian Playwrite)
"He who does not travel does not know the value of men" ~Moorish Proverb