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We’ve been traveling the lower Danube River, Bucharest to Budapest, the last ten days. Internet has been spotty, so I didn’t attempt to blog. But, during our remaining two weeks up to Amsterdam, we should have more consistent connection, so I will try to use my iPad to get online regularly.

So far, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for our democracy in the U.S.  As one of our guides said, with reference to corruption, “Even your worst politicians are angels next to ours.” The main themes I’ve experienced from our guides along the lower Danube were governmental corruption, high rates of unemployment, young people leaving by the thousands for a better future, and time and again the horrendous effects of war and of life under Soviet control.

One guide had a good suggestion for our American teens to know what his life was like as a child: to live a week with only two hours of TV a day–all of which is government controlled and propaganda; with only potatoes to eat; and with no books or reading material. And, of course, with no electronics.

And no bananas either.  Our guide explained he got a banana only on Christmas and Easter.

The Shoes on the Danube Promenade ( in Budapest in memory of Hungarian Jews shot on the banks of the Danube in 1944-1945)

The Shoes on the Danube Promenade (in Budapest in memory of Hungarian Jews shot on the banks of the Danube in 1944-1945)

For those of us born and raised in the U.S. with no wars on our soil in our lifetime and no bombed out buildings in our neighborhoods, it seems to me we could all take a breath now and then and concentrate on being thankful we are free to go to school, to worship as we please, to live in our own houses or apartments, and, yes, to be thankful for our diversity and the opportunity, in light of the international news on what has happened in our S.C., to all get along.