This past weekend was the 9th year since Sept 11, 2001. Now instead of giving you all a story about where I was when the planes hit the towers I wanted to do something a little different. As our country goes through some growing pains (after all, in the grand scheme of things America is the global equivalent of a teenager) I wanted to tell you a different sort of story.
A few years ago "pterodactyl" and I went on a trip with a couple of friends we knew through the Navy. We flew space available (a.k.a- on a military cargo flight, by the seat of our pants) out to Germany. After we landed we promptly grabbed a beer and a brat at some random train station vendor then we went our respective ways with the plan to meet back in Fussen to see the Neuschwanstein Castle, spend a night in Munich then make our way back to the air base in Ramstein to wait for a flight back.
Now this was back in the day when I panicked about vacations. My parents are not huge travelers so I always grew up with the assumption that the opportunity to travel only came along once or twice, so when I got the chance to go somewhere I adopted a "you can sleep when you are dead" philosophy. This was no exception and I over scheduled our trip. So by the time we met up with our friends towards the end of our vacation we were delirious and exhausted, but, in the best way possible.
The four of us went and saw the castle that inspired Disney and it was great. Then, we all headed back to Munich, found a tidy little hostel where all four of us could share a room, and promptly made the requisite trip out to the Hofbrauhaus. We settled into a giant table and ordered beers and let the night begin. Eventually we started chatting with the group of guys that sat at our table, all friends from random places in northern Europe who played cards together. As the night wore on and the beer hall got louder we started to pay attention to the polka band that was playing.
I have known various people who have done an extensive amount of traveling and say that one of the best moments in your travels is the moment you get back, get your passport stamped, and the employee stamping your passport says, "Welcome home." And that is a really damn good moment. However, sitting in the beer hall in Munich, I believe, will forever be imprinted in my brain in a way that outshines that moment you leave the international terminal at the airport.
As we sat there in Munich, in the giant beer hall full of drunk folks from all over the world we heard a familiar tune. The polka band had started playing "Country Roads" by John Denver. And even better, the entire beer hall started singing along. I can't exactly explain why or how, but hearing couple hundred intoxicated Europeans sing a song, heavily accented, about West Virginia made me really happy. Happy that I was there witnessing a positive and unifying American mark on the world (however small and trivial it might be) and happy that, out of all the places in the world, I got to come home to here.
In other news:
New photo post here.
Also, I will be taking the rest of this week off and should be putting up my next post next Tuesday.