Day 4 – National Shrine

Sean’s Journal: Vince, I must say that your views on marriage and family sound a little old fashioned, but then I read about the low birthrate problem in Japan and how their population is aging so rapidly with serious consequences. It certainly seems that love, marriage, and making babies have made the world go around since the beginning.

The South Dakota barbecue is delicious, and the loaded baked potatoes are to die for. I met some great down-home folks and some Asian tourists. The local Dakotans wanted to know the details of my journey and I was happy to tell them my plans, but that the adventure had only just begun. The Asian tourists wanted to know why Americans no longer like immigrants when we used to welcome them. And, they asked me why our president has started international trade wars. I did not have good answers for them except to say that we still like immigrants, but we prefer that they come into the country legally. These tourists seemed to be enjoying America, especially our ice cream. They were friendly to me. I enjoyed asking them about their countries, China, Japan, and South Korea mostly. I was proud of our four presidents and told them my reasons. They were very interested.

And, I do love the giant rock sculptures of the four presidents. I’m awed by the sheer effort it took to create these. This place is not only a tribute to some of our greatest presidents, but it is a national shrine that is worthy of a pilgrimage by all Americans. I’m glad I came here. Vince, I think I’ll be spending part of tomorrow here in the Custer City area. Then I’ve got quite a journey through the Badlands and beyond. I plan to head south and east to reconnect with I-80.  I have one other thing to discuss with you.  I’ll send a separate journal entry in the morning before I hit the road.

Vince’s Response: About Rushmore, patriotism, tourists, and ice cream.  I love them all. Marie and I enjoyed that magnificent monument to great American leaders. It is about patriotism and love of country. We appreciate the tourists who come along to boost our economy, providing we have reservations in advance at the campgrounds (smile). Tourism is the coolest of industries. As we travel, we learn so much about the traditions and customs of other cultures, most of which are more advanced in years than our own. In some cases, these cultures may seem outdated, but in other subtle ways these may be more sophisticated than ours. For example, I’ve got some arthritis. Aspirin is a relatively modern western invention used to treat arthritic pain. But, lately, I’ve experienced more benefits from turmeric that has been in use in Asia for millennia.

Marie and I are keen to learn more about Asian cultures. Many of our grandchildren are learning the Chinese language at school. After I “retired,” I spent four years as a substitute K-12 teacher. One of my favorite classes was a roomful of third graders who were being taught in a total Chinese immersion environment. They spoke and sang in Chinese throughout the day. One young boy was my “teacher’s assistant” to translate my conversations with the children. I was utterly amazed at how beautiful the Chinese language sounds when sung softly.    

Bookends: (1) Patriotism is gratitude. (2) Tourism is awesome. (3) Turmeric is worth a try.