(Note: I reminisced about the Fourth of July two years ago in a Facebook post from Medellin, Colombia. Today I've updated and revised that post for my favorite holiday. I'm posting it again with the Washington monument photo, above, that was posted with it.)
Greetings from Chiang Mai
It's business as usual today as I write from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Yet I still feel a reverberating pride and sense of trepidation in my home country on the Fourth of July, even from thousands of miles and continents away on the path I've chosen to travel in life.
The Fourth of July was always my favorite holiday and on my journey I carry cherished memories of its celebration with family and friends.
It was always a major event in the small, working-class town where I grew up in southern New Jersey.
I remember how much fun it was to wear my Little League uniform and march in the annual parade down the town's main street to the local firehouse where a carnival was always held.
Playing the carnival games and winning a cheap straw "Mexican" sombrero and neck full of paper "Hawaiian" leis were highlights of a kid's summer existence there.
At dusk in the sticky South Jersey heat, when the mosquitos swarmed and fireflies sparkled, my Dad would pack us into the station wagon to go see the fireworks at a local high school football stadium.
Later, while at college in Philadephia, I studied the events and popular symbols associated with liberty and worked as a tour guide on the holiday for several years at Independence Hall, where the founders adopted America's Declaration of Independence 243 years ago.
I was privileged to conduct original research there that made me a recognized source on the history and lore of the Liberty Bell, the nation's famous symbol of the ideals embodied in the declaration.
Today, despite being so far away, the emotional ties that bind me to my country are as strong as ever.
While America often has not lived up to the ideals it professes to represent, I am still an American, born and raised, and proud to declare the fact as I travel the world.
However, in light of events that have occurred since this essay was first published two years ago, I am more deeply concerned than ever that the beacons of freedom and liberty that have steered my country for so long now are as endangered species, hanging by fraying threads, their survival in question without enlightened intervention.
So I call on us all, fellow citizens at home and abroad, to recommit ourselves to the cherished values of democracy, liberty, and human decency that our founders expressed as our nation's abiding principles, and to make that an everlasting contribution to a better world for all.
For my fellow Americans everywhere, may you enjoy a Happy Fourth of July in 2019, and many more in years to come!
I'm a retired journalist from Hawaii who tired quickly of retirement and hit the road as a slow solo world traveler in August 2016. I've spent time in 18 countries on four continents and right now I'm enjoying life in Penang, Malaysia.
I've been interviewed about my travels by Nomadic Matt, and Expat Focus, and here's a great story by veteran Borneo newsman and writer James Ritchie, about our meeting in Kuching, titled, A Confluence of Adventure Writers .
Elsewhere Online ...
GARIFUNA SETTLEMENT DAY
Still the most authentic, lively and colorful local cultural festival I've seen on the road.
I found this Alternative Arts and Music Festival in the Amazon highlands of Peru. What a find!
Here's how I found a friend and discovered what's real in a Lima, Peru, neighborhood.
My partner and I were left high and dry in this Siem Reap Rip. Be careful!