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Spring 2006 I had a very official looking letter arrive at my house with my name printed on it. I opened it and it offered me the wonders of Europe. I had been selected to represent America by traveling to Europe for twenty days because I was recommended or because of my outstanding academic achievements. All I had to do was send in two letters of recommendation, go through an interview process, and come up with around six thousand dollars. If I was chosen to go I would do things normal travelers never experienced. I would sit in on a session of parliament; I would go into buildings and places tourists never get to see. I reserved a seat to learn more. A couple months went by, along with the meeting, the interview, and the submission of my application to enroll in People to People student ambassadors. One day I received a letter of congratulations. I had made it into the program and in a few short months would be on my way to explore a new culture. My departure date was set for July 5, 2007.
Finally, after months of preparation, my departure date came. All my bags were packed and ready. That morning my parents and I left for LAX. We arrived, said our tearful goodbyes, and I made my way to the security line. Finally, after sitting and waiting our plane was called to board. One layover and four time jumps later, we arrived. Most of our days were packed so full we usually went to bed at ten. They were full of fun, adventure, and learning. I’ll never forget scaling down a castle wall and meeting all sorts of new people with different customs. For example, in Belgium during breakfast they butter their toast and add some sprinkles. It was very peculiar to me. Sprinkles are not a common breakfast food here. The saddest and most thought provoking part of the whole trip was the American Cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach. There were so many white crosses and Stars of David as headstones for the soldiers who died during the invasion. It was so peaceful there with the ocean waves breaking on the rocks, the wind blowing through the weeping willow trees, and the white headstones standing out against the green grass. We spent a couple of hours there reflecting and honoring the men that gave their lives for us. The rest of our trip was full of fun but I will never forget that part of the trip. It made me think about how much our soldiers actually have to go through and how difficult life is for them. I saw where they came in through, how flat the land they had to run through was, how easy of a target they were for the enemies who had the advantage, and how much they suffered. Before, I knew it was difficult, but it did not really affect me because I was not there where they were, I did not experience it. This has really opened my eyes to our world and how lucky we are to live in America. At the end of our twenty days over seas we packed up and headed home to our families and loved ones.
Since coming home I have realized how lucky we are to live in America where we have rights protected by our soldiers. Soldiers who would give their lives to keep America they way it is and protect us from other countries who want to change that. This is what I learned on my trip over seas.