We spent the entire day in the city of Brotherly Love, and I couldn't be happier.
We arrived at noon, just in time for a Philly Cheesesteak lunch. Apparently there are only two places ou should go for cheesesteak in Philly and they're right across the street from each other. We took the advice of two ladies sitting on the stoop near the street we parked on, and headed to Geno's. At Geno's the walls are filled with police and fire department patches from all over the country. A sign on the window says, "This is America. When ordering, please speak in English." They mean it too, aside from selling "freedom fries," Geno's was the center of a large controversy for even posting the sign. Story goes that his parents were immigrants from Italy, they worked hard to learn the language and the owner thought everyone else should too. Anyway, the sandwich was about what I expected - not quite disgusting, but I certainly don't need another anytime soon, or anytime ever. Punk said, "amazing, awesome, LOVED it," Kooka said it was "really good," Rico said "that's a good sandwich!"
It was school grade roast beef slices covered in hot cheese wiz. If that's what Rico considers "really good" then I should never hear him complain about not being able to find a good restaurant in Minnesota.
After passing some of the most beautiful grafitti we've ever seen, we stopped at Isgro's Pastries for fresh cannolis before going to Christ Church Cemetery. The cemetery is the final resting place of some of our founding fathers, including Rico's namesake - Poor Richard - Benjamin Franklin.
Common lore says that tossing a penny on his grave will bring you good luck, but since I'm a stickler for monument respect, we didn't. Besides, the man who said "A penny saved is a penny earned," was probably OK with us keeping ours.
Just a block away was the Liberty Bell, where we stopped for a quick photo, before taking off to Independence Hall.
Of course, I cried.
Like we didn't see that coming.
If Graceland and Gary, Indiana can bring a tear to my eye, certainly this place would.
It wasn't just standing in the very same spot where Lincoln stood, touching the bricks where George Washington was inaugurated, or walking the same path as Thomas Jefferson. It was so much more than that.
Every single freedom we have, every right that so many people take for granted, started here. Every single man who signed that Declaration of Independence knew he was committing high treason. Each of them knew they would be hung by the British just for signing their name - but they did it. They did it because they believed in the promise of America, they believed in the future, they believed in us.
And maybe that is why I left feeling sad. I wonder how they'd feel about us now, I wonder if we are worth it. There is a big difference between being unable and unwilling to pursue your dreams. If our kids left with anything today, I hope it is fire in their souls, hope in their hearts, the belief that they are worth it, that people risked their lives just so they could have the freedom to be dreamers, thinkers, speakers, believers.
If nothing else, I feel somehow vindicated in my children's early education. When the tour guide asked the easy questions, everyone knew the answers, but it was Punk's lone voice who piped out "General Cornwallis," "Spain," and "France."
Score one for Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and the mom who shelled out $24.95 for the Schoolhouse Rock DVD twelve years ago.
Score another one for the Fairfield Inn in Philly where they greeted us with free subs, warm chocolate chip cookies, fresh strawberry lemonade, and a pool all to ourselves.