Here’s wishing all of you a happy and safe fourth of July. I tried to come up with something glowingly patriotic to post but all I could summon was a memory. The February after 9/11, I traveled to Washington D.C. to stump for my second novel. A friend and I visited the Mall late at night. It was bitingly cold and stunningly clear. We wandered through the Korean War Memorial and studied the clotted faces of the oversized soldiers in their rain ponchos and helmets. As we sat on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Marine One, the presidential helicopter, came in for a landing beside the Mall, kicking up a glowing halo of dust. It was the first time in my life I appreciated the strength and history of this country without a teacher or a family member spoon feeding it to me.