Today was the British equivalent of the U.S. Veterans /Memorial Day.

It is called Remembrance Day.

In the crowded Heathrow Airport packed with tens of thousands of people the din was as loud as a London subway headed to Piccadilly Circus and then all fell silent,

A young girl came over the sound system and read a tribute to the British servicemen and women. Part of what she stated as she described the service men and women. “you cut your time short so we could have our time.”

The British taps were played over the sound system and then two or three minutes of total silence.
It was so touching that even after the two minutes of reverence, people were slow to once again raise the volume level.
The mass of people represented all nations, all nationalities, all religious and nor-religious persuasions. In London they don’t mark the delineations of cultures or religions as much as we do in the United States. London is a big city, they know better and most all know that they profit from one another.

We’ve just spent our 60th or perhaps 70th day in London compiled over the last ten years.

We are late bloomers when it comes to international travel and it only started in earnest fifteen years ago.

I consider that I am somewhat “conversationally gifted” and it is either a gift or curse that I’m still trying to determine.

As we travel the experience isn’t gauged by just checking off well worn tourist sites but the experience of encountering others.

Those others might be locals or they might be other tourists.

My local small community has a signifcant amount of diversity so being around others of different nationalities and languages has left me quite comfortable outside of the U.S.

I haven’t strayed to far off the common place tourist destinations other than I do try to avoid coastal cities that are known as party destinations.

As I travel and visit with others outside my country I get a sense of our common bonds, I get a sense of what binds us together and what separates us.

I suspect this comes under the realm of obsessive/compulsive behavior but… I also count the number or estimate the number of U.S. flags that are worn by tourists (U.S. citizens) and I also try to estimate the U.S. flags worn or flown by others.

Currently I’m returning on a nine hour flight and I’m wrestling with what this trip has produced in terms of human and social observations in London.

As always, London is pretty much a very polite city and the degree of tolerance and respect goes far and wide.

They recently have had a few stabbings that were dreadful and horriffic. It even occured in the area that we were visiting.

It dominated the news because a homicide in this city is rare, even considering the population size.

Putting it into perspective , the other nine million five hundred thousand residents find their way home each evening.

During our ten day stay we encountered many people and had numerous meaningful conversations thoughout the day.

The conversations often started by someone else with a simple “ where are you from?”

Cheerily I would say the U.S.A. and often in return I would receive “oh”.

Even though this “oh” only lasted a second it was an exceedingly clear indication that they may have thought we were from Canada.

I live in Minnesota and the proximity to Canada gives us a dialectic similarity.

I realized immediately their fondness of the U.S. has lost its luster because of recent political events in the past two or three years.

I had not encountered this awkwardness before and this happened more than once.

To break the abrupt silence I countered with “We’re from the U.S. and I apologize!”

At which point the conversation could continue with relative comfort and ease.

I have tried to follow their political Brexit concerns and I have British friends on both side of the issue. These politically daunting times on both sides of the pond.

Both countries have big issues that have the ability to rend asunder the social fabric of nations.

However, over the past fifteen years of travel I have never encountered the full scale loathing of America like I have this past trip.

All were polite and friendly but nobody harbored “tumbs up!” for the U.S.A.

In their typical British fashion they did offer sympathy for our lack of a credible president and expressed hope that it can be fixed the next election.

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