I basically grew up travelling. My entire family, from Mom and Dad, to both sets of grandparents, great-aunts and great-uncles, cousins, dogs were happiest when on the road, discovering new parts of our state, new states and eventually, new continents. I managed to hit four of the seven continents before being mostly grounded after my airline died under my feet. So I guess it was a natural career move as I moved on from high school and college into flying with Eastern Air Lines for 24 years.
I was working a flight from San Juan, Puerto Rico to my home base of Miami on the day Eastern closed its doors. Normally, when the captain came over the P/A system and asked the chief flight attendant to come to the cockpit, it usually meant something was wrong (with the plane, the weather, other oddities). That time, it was to tell me the airline I loved was no longer. The ramifications of that action made for difficult times as crew members kept their composure to say pleasant goodbyes to our passengers, then to our fellow crewmates. That story was firmly put into a sealed box in my mind to deal with later. But it did get me to thinking, and looking back...
My first trip to Europe, my best friend Rosemarie and I flew to London and booked into a wonderful bed and breakfast hotel downtown and stayed for a couple of weeks. We then took a train to the White Cliffs of Dover, took a hydrofoil boat ride to France and yet another train to Paris. Ooh, la la! We roamed through the city, made the tour of must-sees, and began seeing a trend of Americans acting stupid in public. Americans at that time were known European-wide as 'Ugly Americans, a pejorative referring to perceptions of loud, arrogant, demeaning, thoughtless, ignorant behavior of American citizens abroad. We saw those actions on a daily basis.
As our Americans of today are turning back time with their spiels of hatred, animosity, my-way-or-the-highway, anything goes, I'm seeing similarities with those late-1960s of my memories. It's a shame. America has in the past few decades become much more inclusive of others, embracing our differences and similarities, that I hate to think of what's ahead. And pray that it won't happen again. I am a proud American, but to be respected, one has to respect others. There's an old '60s saying: What goes around, comes around.