Faith in America lifts the public mood
A recent cross-country road trip showed that despite struggles, few people seem to doubt that the nation will rebound.
There is nothing like an 8,000-mile road trip across America and back to restore one's confidence in the resilience of the American people.Skip to next paragraph
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This summer my wife and I took such a six-week car trip visiting friends and family and chatting with ordinary folks. We rediscovered a land of extraordinary vitality and remarkable people.
Cruise through the cattle-raising states such as Idaho and Wyoming, and the great grain states of Nebraska, Iowa, and Kansas and you are struck by America's prodigious production of food, which nourishes not only millions of Americans, but also much of the rest of the world.
Across the highways of Illinois, Ohio, and New York, huge trucks roll along by day and night delivering machinery, new cars, and consumer goods from factories in the industrialized states to users in every corner of the nation.
America is not only an immensely productive land, it is incredibly beautiful. This beauty is evident in preserved areas, which wise men have ensured we can enjoy forever: the snowcapped glory of the Tetons; the soaring, forested grandeur of the Great Smoky Mountains; the roaring waters of Niagara Falls, sending a curtain of spray into the air that can be seen for miles around; the solitude of Maine's ocean-girt Acadia, one of the smallest yet most visited national parks.
The core strength of the country is of course its people. Their myriad churches, temples, and synagogues in every town testify to the diverse faiths that inspire and comfort.
Then there is patriotism, not just symbolized by the stars and stripes that flutter from flagpoles in every town, or that adorn the shoulder patches of policemen and firemen or the tailgates of trucks, but by a deep love of country and the freedoms it stands for. Praise for America's soldiers abroad is never far from the lips of the new friends you meet along the way. The military seems to be the most respected institution in the doughnut and coffee shops of the American heartland.