This morning I went out before sun up in Philadelphia riding my bike through the city and over the Ben Franklin Bridge to Camden and back. Part of the riding was down the recently repaved Market Street. This six-lane east-west boulevard is glass smooth where it used to be cracked and crumbling. I flew down the middle of the street--no traffic, fast enough to make green light after green light.
As I rode up the BFB toward Camden, the sun sent shafts of light over the eastern horizon into what would soon be an robin's egg blue sky. Just the occasional cloud bent the orange light. When I turned back toward Philadelphia, the orange glow lit blue coated 50+ story towers that form the center of the Philadelphia sky line.
Moments like these will be remind me of Iraq for the rest of my life. Certainly not because Iraq looks anything like this, but the contrast is so vivid. When I served in Germany in the 1970s, Germany became like a second home. From the North Sea to the Alps, Germany lacks nothing in natural beauty and the settled beauty of civilization. Iraq is a dry, dusty, drab and dreadful.
Travel really does make home more beautiful--and the uglier the place I travel, the more beautiful home becomes.