Our camping adventures began in 2009. Matt’s employer filed for bankruptcy in late spring 2009 and by early June we had bought a diesel truck and headed West. We theorized that with the future so uncertain, we may never have the funds and resources to accomplish one of our bucket list goals. Looking back it was kinda like when Cousin Eddie traded his house for an RV. 

That there Clark is an RV…

We spent two weeks camping our way to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and back. Our main goal was to make it to Yellowstone. And we did. And it was just simply incredible. But one of the highlights of the trip, an unexpected highlight, was Mount Rushmore. 

Jake had just turned six and had the recent presidential election and vacation bible school still fresh in his mind. He called Mount Rushmore the “Three Wise Men” and informed us the “old guy on the end was John McCain”. 

Pardon his ice cream mustache. And beard. Kid has always been crazy about ice cream.  
Someone at our campground told us to make sure to visit Rushmore in the evening for the lighting ceremony. Each summer evening, they present a patriotic program explaining the history of the monument, why the four presidents depicted were selected and lower the flag for the night. 

The crowd starting to gather in the outdoor amphitheater for the ceremony. 

After a park service ranger presents a short program over the history of the monument, they play the National Anthem and as the entire crowd sings along, they are gradually illuminating the face of the monument. 

Then they ask for any and all veterans in the audience to come down and join them on stage for the lowering of the flag.  At first, many veterans are reluctant to do so and after a lot of encouragement, they start to trickle down to the stage.  Some need assistance. Some are in wheelchairs. Some use crutches. Some use canes. Some limp. Perhaps caused by the sacrifice of war and service or perhaps caused by the passage of time. But I don’t think there was a dry eye to be found as we watched these men and women make their way to the stage.  

And then one by one, each of them was handed the microphone to say their name, branch of military and years of service.  There was even one gentleman there from the Battle of the Bulge.  

Each evening a different Boy Scout troop lowers the flag under the watchful eye of veterans. 

It truly was an experience of a lifetime.  As tears stream down your face you realize you are truly living in the greatest country in the world. No matter the politics or the complaints or the things we think are wrong in this country…it’s still the greatest country in the world.  

Happy Birthday America!! Oh how I love you!

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…