Real America – Outside the Beltway – Personal Blog #2

On Spring break this year, we flew from Washington D.C. Dulles Airport to Salt Lake City, Utah, and drove five hours to the remote yet spectacular mountains and forests of Sun Valley, Idaho.  This snow skier’s paradise, which lives up to its first name with abundant sunshine, is 2,334 miles from our nation’s Capitol.  In reality, it’s on the other side of the world.  Here we found real America, hard working, friendly, kind to their neighbors, strong sense of community and full of the volunteer spirit.

At the Sun Valley Lodge, we saw many experienced skiers volunteering for the Sun Valley Adaptive Sports program.  Severely injured service members (active duty and veterans) who served in the Iraq  and Afghanistan Wars, and are still being treated for unimaginable injuries suffered while they defended our Country, arrive at Sun Valley to ski, snowboard, snowshoe, ice skate and enjoy the outdoors.    I was struck by the patience and skill of the volunteer skiers and the real joy of accomplishment on the faces of the injured war veterans as they came down the slopes. The program opens new worlds to people with disabilities building confidence and independence. The program is highly praised and nationally recognized by the Department of Defense, military hospitals, military care units, VAs, and veteran service organizations around the country as a leading adaptive sports organization serving “wounded warriors.”

We also saw lots of individual acts of kindness.  My friend Gail Wray, a former “inside the beltway Fed,” helps other people every day of her life.  One morning she encouraged a woman with three DWI’s to attend her first Alcoholics Anonymous group meeting.  If she didn’t go the woman was going to lose her drivers license and my friend was intent on that not happening.  Gail also is working to preserve Idaho’s natural beauty.

Alexis de Tocqueville traveled through America in 1831 – 1832 – Tocqueville saw how “liberty could be channeled by widespread participation in public life to prevent a potentially volatile ‘tyranny of the majority’ from spilling over into anarchy or despotism.”  In the widely read and highly praised first volume of Democracy in America (1835), Tocqueville showed how boisterous local associations and a decentralized political system moderated the fractiousness of democratic life. “Nothing, in my opinion, is more deserving of our attention than the intellectual and moral associations of America,” he wrote.

They say in Sun Valley that doctors still make house calls. On a Spring break trip to Sun Valley, Idaho, our family found this kind of America Tocqueville talked about hundreds of years ago.  It gives us hope for the future.


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