The Nation: A Long Ride with the American Caravan

Two hundred years has been so little, yet brought so much.

One day last October I walked out over a patch of prairie with my father, who was 80 years old. It was undulating land between the great rivers Mississippi and Missouri. We looked for an old friend of his—a red-tailed hawk with one of his tail feathers missing. He had perched for years as a sentinel on a tree on a far hill, crying his protest to intruders who entered his domain. Gone, mused my father, who had once carried me on his shoulders through these fields (now he needed...

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