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Experiencing America
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Last year around the Thanksgiving period, I had the opportunity to visit the United States Air Force Academy and wrote an article about this wonderful experience . . . and expressed the intent to eventually visit the other military academies as the founder and owner of USA Patriotism!

Well, shortly after the first of the year, I reread several of my poems about our great country including,
One Nation Under God and If America Had Never Been, and realized that I needed to really experience America and start sharing my trips with all who visit USA Patriotism!

And the answer to why is quite simple...

 

David Bancroft, Founder of USA Patriotism!
David G. Bancroft

Love and pride of America should involve experiencing our
great country too, and especially all that is uniquely American.

So, about a month ago I began my Experiencing America saga . . . spending two weeks with my wife and my oldest grandson (12 years old) driving over 5000 miles through twelve states to visit what I had yet to see in person . . . and few places that I haven't visited for way too long.

Now, before you start shaking your head about driving all these miles, flying and renting cars were strongly considered. However, my wife and I felt that our grandson should see all these miles and each state from a car . . . starting from Houston, Texas and going to Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, Great Salt Lake, Las Vegas (Wayne Newton), Hoover Dam, the Grand Canyon, and other wonderful places along the way.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Area

The first part of our trip was the 1000 mile plus two day drive to visit Mt. Rushmore in the western part of South Dakota. (The drive from Houston included seeing the great states of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska, where farmland is quite plentiful with ranches, forests, lakes, and rivers sharing the scenic view.)

 Never being in Nebraska or South Dakota before, my wife and I were both surprised by the relative flatness of the very green, openness of Nebraska that quickly changed after entering South Dakota with mountain peaks over 6,000 feet in its western part where Mount Rushmore is located.

Our memorable visit to Mount Rushmore National Memorial was worth every minute . . . and seeing the 60 foot chiseled faces of the four great Presidents in person cannot adequately be described.

You truly need to see them in person to grasp their magnificence and the patriotic pride instilled.

Even the look on the faces of visitors from other countries brought a feeling of pride knowing that they were experiencing one of the greatest symbols of America.

I truly believe that every American should experience seeing Mount Rushmore in person, but only when they are at an age to understand its significance. And parents and grandparents... around 12 years old might be the right age for the first time. My grandson was awed by everything he saw and asked many questions. Actually, his questions started shortly after we left Houston and continued with sincerity with every new visual and other learning experience along with normal kid questions.  (The picture of my wife, grandson, and me were taken by a fellow patriot whose son serves proudly in the National Guard and will be in Iraq soon.)

 David Bancroft pictured with his wife and grandson at Mount Rushmore
Flag lowering ceremony at Mount Rushmore with troops and veterans in attendane being honored. I also recommend to arrange being at Mount Rushmore's lowering of the flag ceremony that occurs at night (around 9pm).

Active troops and veterans are invited to participate by introducing themselves including their military service affiliation and rank. (see photo on left)

The lowering of the flag ceremony was especially moving for me (and I suspect for all) as park ranger, Sommar Chaffee (photo right), gave an inspiring presentation about the circumstances that led to Francis Scott Key writing the Star-Spangled Banner that eventually became America's national anthem.

Summer also beautifully sang the last verse. (She should consider entering next season's American Idol, as that is how good she was.)

Spending time at Custer State Park, adjacent to Mount Rushmore, is a must, as well.

Sommar Chaffee, Mount Rushmore Park Ranger

It has abundant wildlife, including buffalo, and you can enjoy a wonderful panoramic view of South Dakota's Black Hills and Badlands from the lookout atop the peak of 6,023 foot Mount Coolidge. (Custer State Park is not where Custer's last stand occurred. Little Big Horn is in Montana.)

And taking the scenic route to Mount Rushmore from Custer State Park is a wonderful way to see the Presidents coming out of several well placed tunnels.

Note: There is a mountain side chiseling of Crazy Horse that is between Mount Rushmore and Custer State Park. It is actually larger than a President's face on Mount Rushmore. Right now, only the face of Crazy Horse is viewable, but will eventually include him riding a stallion.

Continued...
David G. Bancroft
Founder / Owner
USA Patriotism!
Copyright 2007
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