As we begin to wrap up our whirlwind trip across the country, we start to reflect upon the insightful three weeks that we just experienced. We feel immensely blessed and privileged that we were given this opportunity. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into a mere three weeks ago. We tried hard not to speculate so that each experience we had would come without any preconceived notions or ideas. We wanted to fully immerse ourselves in this project and let you, our companions, experience every leg of this journey with us.
A road trip. Merriam Webster defines a road trip as an extended trip in a motor vehicle. To us, it holds much more value than that. This road trip set us out on the path of patriotism. When we set off from Jersey City on June 23rd we had no idea what the following three weeks would hold. Who knew that we’d dine with three different Commanding Generals or get arrested by the British? Only in our wildest dreams would we take a helicopter ride over Mount Rushmore or take lead in a patriotic golf cart parade. Don’t even get us started on the amazing people that we met- all of whom have left a positive impact on our lives. An extended trip in a motor vehicle doesn’t even begin to define the path of knowledge that we just encountered.
In the spirit of sharing, we want to take some time to share with you some of our most precious and memorable moments from each town. They all hold a special place in our hearts.
Williamsburg is a town that is steeped in history. We don’t know anyone who wouldn’t have fun in this quaint little town. Between the culturally rich museums, the historical landmarks, and the ubiquitous re-enactors, what’s not to love? One experience we’ll never forget was when Chris went and offended a Red Coat and inevitably got himself thrown in jail. He served about five minutes hard time- having to stock wood for a future barricade. He was forced to swear loyalty to the King, but it wasn’t until after he was released that he revealed that his fingers were crossed the entire time. Between that and toasting to George Washington in a local tavern, what’s not to love?
Peachtree City, Georgia.
Peachtree City is a hidden gem. It’s a unique town in so many ways. Not only was it a planned development, but it also boasts over 90 miles of golf cart trails. That’s every big kid’s dream! We loved roaming through the woods on our bouncy golf cart. Everyone we passed would smile and wave- like we were neighbors or part of the family. One of the biggest surprises was when we were given the opportunity to fly in a World War II era plane. Chris’s face lit up instantly and couldn’t wait to hop in. From the cockpit he was able to see Peachtree City in all of its glory.
Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
Fort Leonard Wood is just that- a military fort. It’s hard not to feel patriotic when you’re surrounded by men and women who swore to protect your country as well as your life. We were able to see and experience so much in this town, but the one experience that really stood out to us was during our time with Fort Leonard Wood’s Drill Sergeant of the Year, Benjamin Faccio. His presence alone could send chills down your spine. One look from him could send turn any new private into a fidgeting mess. For us, the best part of our tour around post was getting to know the man underneath the uniform. He became relatable and we could feel the sincerity in his voice as he talked about the love he has for his country. It’s moments like those that really showed the patriotism of our servicemen and women.
Hands down, our most memorable experience in Clarksville was sitting and chatting with retired Army veteran Heath Calhoun. You can read the blog post we dedicated to him here. We also thoroughly enjoyed our 4th of July picnic at the home of Commanding General Campbell as well as meeting a few men from the 101st airborne. It was a 4th of July that we’ll never forget!
One thing we really like about Emporia is that they really focused on the future of our nation. We’re talking about children. Emporia has so many activities geared toward teaching young minds the true meaning of patriotism and how to treat one another. There are many family friendly activities located in the small little town that it’s often hard to choose which ones to participate in. You can wander through the local farmer’s market, attend a Brown Bag event, or dance and sing to a brass band playing in the park. We thoroughly enjoyed watching the young ones frolic through the grass enthusiastically waving the American flag. You could see the joy it brought to the entire community.
Rapid City, South Dakota.
If there’s one downfall to Rapid City it’s that there’s TOO much to do! With only two days, we were bursting with jealousy at all of the other visitors that were able to spend more time there. We stood in awe at all of the detail that went into carving of the presidents of Mount Rushmore. Our minds were blown when we learned that we were going to have dinner with the last known living carver of the monument. It is an experience that not many get to have.
This pilgrimage across America has opened our eyes and our hearts. We have a great nation and we have been proud to share it’s story with all of you. There are so many places tucked away in the USA that afford us the opportunities to be reminded of all the liberties we have as Americans. There are endless opportunities to enrich our lives with stories and memories.
If any final words come to mind from this journey they would be to embark. If you find yourself with the chance, no matter how small, to drive through this nation, do it. Along the highways of our homeland you will meet your history, your brothers and sisters, and your future. Strike out and explore your own backyard, there is more out there than you might expect.
-Captain and Clark