A short walk through history

Nearly every minute of my walk to the grocery store encounters a reminder of Germany’s dark past.

Not long after I leave my home, I pass these three “Stolpersteines” (German for stumbling stones) memorializing a family deported to separate concentration camps under the Nazi regime.

For the past 20 years, artist Gunter Demnig has crafted and placed these small memorials outside the last known address for victims of the Nazis reign.

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Paris Agreement: Changing what we can

As I’ve aged, I’ve really started to love hiking. There’s something about wandering through nature with a friend, cut off from technology and surrounded by all of Mother Nature’s glory that just centers you.

It seems fitting that a year ago today I was spending a carefree June day hiking to the Kjenndal Glacier in Norway. I can still feel the crisp air that surrounded me as the sun shone in such a way that every drop of water and blade of grass seemed in technicolor.

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What to think about the airstrikes in Syria

Just more than 12 hours after I published my post about WWI and Syria, President Trump launched an air strike against the Shayrat Airfield in Syria. There is certainly no shortage of hot or bad takes on social media right now about whether that was a logical decision.

I’m not an expert, nor am I confident in what the right decision is regarding Syria. I’m a little unsettled that this administration changed course in a 12-hour period. However, the Syrian people have been waiting for years for someone, anyone, to help end the conflict.

I have a lot of thoughts swirling in my head right now so here’s a rundown of them by hot take topics on social media:

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Reflecting on Syria on the anniversary of WWI

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entrance into World War I. To Europe, this is a significant day because it marks when the U.S. abandoned its longstanding isolationist position and began what Europe perceives as the United States’ modern transatlantic relationship with European nations.

Liberty Memorial-The National WWI Memorial in Kansas City, Mo.

While I was traveling in Brussels last week, I constantly heard about the anniversary and its importance to the relationship. There will be an anniversary celebration in my hometown of Kansas City at the National World War I monument today. You can watch it live here.

Meanwhile, I’ve been reflecting on that history, the Trump administration’s current foreign policy (especially in light of recent events in Syria), and my travel experiences in Brussels.

It’s always interesting to travel abroad and hear another perspective about your country. We had a lot of conversations about why American audiences don’t keep up with foreign current events until it actually affects America.

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Brussels: One year later

Memorial at the entrance of the Brussels Airport

My trip to Brussels ended over the weekend and I am back in D.C. now. It was quite an experience and I am so grateful for the chance to learn more about the EU, as well as get so many foreign policy briefings and observe the historic exercise.

Along with being in Brussels during British Prime Minister Theresa May’s historic triggering of Article 50 to begin Britain’s exit from the European Union, I was also in Brussels during the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the Brussels airport and metro.

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So much winning! Is everyone tired of winning?

With all the winning in D.C. this week, it’s hard to believe we could win any bigger. But, I have some great news! Just in time for my latest podcast, Politics in Polite Company has finally made it on iTunes! Make sure you subscribe!

This week—I’m talking to Joy Namunoga with the Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda. Yep! We’re calling Joy in Uganda to talk to her about corruption and what she learned while she was a U.S. State Department fellow. We worked together at the Sunlight Foundation and I thought you might enjoy hearing her perspective. I wrote last week about my experience with these programs and I thought you might benefit from hearing from somebody who is not an American.

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The unexpected gift

When the box showed up at my desk with a return address from Mexico, I was nervous. Should I open this? Just a month earlier, the floor above ours was shut down after someone sent an anthrax threat to a group with ties to a certain presidential candidate’s family charity.

Would it be safe to open it?

I hesitated. I didn’t recognize the name on the return address for the rather large box. It wasn’t suspicious in any way—just was unexpected. I think I told my coworkers to call 911 if anything went wrong as I cut open the box.

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The more you know: Immigration executive orders, Consular Affairs and visas

Yesterday morning, the Trump administration introduced a new executive order (to replace the previous one) addressing visa applicants from (now) six countries. Not long after, I walked into my Diplomatic Practice class and learned we were having a guest speaker: Ambassador Michelle Bond, the former Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs.

Man, living in D.C. is weird sometimes when certain people cross your path at the right moment.

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Good Night, and Good Luck.

I studied the great CBS reporter Edward R. Murrow a great deal as a journalist, but this week I’ve viewed him in a whole new light: as a patriot of this country.

We’ve been studying Murrow in my public diplomacy class. Before this week I had no idea that Murrow, after being a journalist, became director of the United States Information Agency in 1961. In one of my textbooks there was a great quote from when he testified before Congress:

“American traditions and the American ethic requires us to be truthful, but the most important reason is that truth is the best propaganda and lies are the worst. To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; to be credible we must be truthful. It is as simple as that.”

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