Bonds and Myths of American Identity

Living abroad for eight years, my primary identity became "American" and "expat." I was thrilled to encounter Americans in the Middle East and felt instant affinity with most of them. Political or (sub)cultural differences didn't matter. We seemed to have an innate understanding of each other. Now that I am "home," it seems I have... Continue Reading →


‘Unlearning the Myth of American Innocence’

"Americans will never understand their own country until they see it as the rest of the world does," writes Suzy Hansen in The Guardian, in an excerpt from her book, Notes on a Foreign Country. She calls it "the myth of American innocence." It might also be called willful ignorance of the world, blindness, or a... Continue Reading →

Officially Repatriated To The USA After 8 Years, I’m More Aware of What It Means to be American

After 8 1/2 years residing in the Middle East and traveling to 40 countries, my wife and I have been officially REPATRIATED to the USA. It has been an incredibly rich, fascinating journey. We have loved nearly every place we have visited or resided, met so many wonderful students, fellow educators, journalists, and friendly people of... Continue Reading →


He Taught Freed Slaves to Read and Write, Helped Found Wake Forest College

Lockey Simmons (1796-1880), my great great great grandfather, taught his freed slaves to read and write, as part of the Freedmen's Schools movement throughout the South during Reconstruction. He ran a very profitable tannery and leather business in Montgomery County, NC (near Troy), acquired a lot of land in the area, and about 40 slaves (read... Continue Reading →


Mixed Feelings About National Anthem

As Americans debate the role of protest during the national anthem at national sporting events, this video by evangelical preacher Dudley Rutherford, of a megachurch in California, has attracted, as of September 2017, an audience of more than six million on, and 2.8 million shares on Facebook even though it is mostly not true.... Continue Reading →


How Singing the National Anthem Became Sports Ritual & History of Right to Protest

Singing the national anthem has traditionally been used as a unifier at sporting events, sending the message that we may root for different teams, but we are all Americans who share a heritage and basic values. With protests of police brutality, and against racial injustice, that may be changing temporarily. Eventually, however, such protests lose... Continue Reading →


Why Can’t Americans View Other Countries and Cultures Clearly?

An eye-opening exploration of how other countries perceive America, review by Ali Wyne, Washington Post: "Growing up in a small New Jersey town, Suzy Hansen remembers that her 'entire experience was domestic, interior, American,' lacking any 'sense of America being [just] one country on a planet of many countries.'” Since 2007, however, her life has... Continue Reading →


States Visited. What Have I Missed?

I have visited 41 US states, if DC is included. What essential have I missed? What are your favorite must-see spots in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Central or South America? If you were in a conversation with someone who had seen nothing of North, Central or South America, what would you recommend as the “must... Continue Reading →


Quintessential American Story of McDonalds “Founder”

For a story about modern America and the world, I highly recommend this movie, available on Netflix: "The Founder," about Ray Kroc, a traveling salesman in the restaurant industry who built the McDonalds' franchise into a multi-billion-dollar business. Kroc, Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump were all inspired by the can-do philosophy of the Rev. Norman... Continue Reading →


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