After almost two weeks in the USA, most of that time enjoying the delights of the Commonwealth of Virginia, I thought I would offer an update on my reflections on the trip. I concede that some of these points may be particular to the parts of the US that we have seen, rather than being generalisations about the entire country, but here we go...
1. Despite being, relatively speaking, a young nation, there seems to be a great deal of pride in the country's heritage and history. Virginia was the first permanent settlement, and consequently there is much to note around the towns of Jamestown & Williamsburg, which we visited. As English tourists, you get used to being apologised to for the past, too!
2. There are some spectacular memorials around, particularly in Washington DC, and they especially like to remember (some of) their presidents - Lincoln, Washington, Roosevelt and Jefferson stand out (Jefferson more so in Virginia, his home state). But their war memorials - for Korea, Vietnam and the Marines Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington - particularly impressed me.
3. The Flag is everywhere: on public buildings, businesses, private houses, even in the church we attended yesterday. This is probably a link to the obvious national pride that my earlier points illustrate. In Britain this would bother me more than it does here.
4. I mentioned in Part 1 that everything is big here. This is a big country, with lots of huge open spaces, and the scenery is quite breath-taking. We had a day exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah National Park and were astounded by the scale, scope and grandeur of it all.
5. I have also been struck by the hospitality of people here - and not just, I think, because they are church folk. People have been very helpful to us, getting used to different ways of doing things, and the perhaps clichéd refrain of "Have a nice day!" seems for the most part to be genuine and heart-felt. One practical out-working of this was that everyone at church had name-tags that they could wear, which helped with introductions at times of interaction.
6. A consequence of that hospitality is that we have received a number of invitations to eat with folk: we managed to garner two lunch invitations for yesterday! This usually means eating out, which people here seem to do quite regularly, and there is always a wide choice of cuisines to choose from.
So, just a few further thoughts. Another week here in VA, then we head north before heading home. Maybe a little more reflection later...