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Remarkable regular sights in Pa.

LANCASTER, Pa.

Most travelers who come here are, more often than not, attracted to the nearby Amish farm village or the Victorian home of President James Buchanan.

Though I had been here previously and had experienced the Amish tour, I missed the Buchanan home and chose to return recently for the purpose of touring the homestead of 15th president.

However, I got a bonus by doing what Yogi Berra once advised: "You can see a lot by observing." Activities and conversations involving local folk along the way from Washington, D.C., stimulated good thoughts about America the beautiful. Sectionalism might make us think different, at least politically, but most of the country functions about the same wherever you go.

On the way here, lunch with a friend at the expansive King of Prussia mall outside Philadelphia gave spirits a refreshing lift. Pennsylvanians not surprisingly are big on Christmas. I saw the same activities I would expect from making a stop at Lenox Square in Atlanta.

There was a colony of young mothers shopping, pushing baby carriages in tandem and queuing up for photos of their offspring with Santa. Patience was underscored even when there was a camera malfunction extending the wait. The accents were different, but my eavesdropping revealed that young mothers here have the same interests and routine of young mothers anywhere else.

They talked about children, family activities and the best place to find a bargain that would most accommodate the family budget. Their dress was modest, the smiles repetitive and their touch with the children - theirs and those of their friends - was gentle and encouraging. Nothing impatient or demanding.

Exiting the turnpike and traveling the state roads, there were rural scenes you come to expect this time of the year. Christmas trees with lights twinkling in the windows of homes. Santa displays, manager scenes on lawns and commercial messages having to do with recruiting of customers.

At dinner at the Olde Greenfield Inn outside Lancaster, we chose to sit at the bar which offered the opportunity to enjoy a nice conversation with a pleasant widow, Pat Good. The community is still trying to recover from the murder of five Amish children in October.

Pat has great respect for the humility and modesty of the Amish and revealed that "the English - that is what the Amish call us - raised over $3 million dollars for the families." Money came from everywhere as the world seemed taken by the Amish community turning the other cheek.

When the money came in, what the Amish did is what you might expect of people who preach what they practice. Pat explained they gave money to the widow of Charles Carl Roberts IV, the killer of their children, who subsequently took his own life.

Forgiveness is noble, but difficult for most of us to initiate. I am now ready for Christmas with a fortunate exposure to humble and forgiving people.

There is the reminder, too, that most Americans in most communities get up every day and go about their business without injuring or causing ill will to others. The headlines, however, often suggest otherwise.

A brief stop in this Pennsylvania community brought about the awareness once again that Americans everywhere are not that much different from one another. There is more love than hate.

Different habits and lifestyles, perhaps, and different activities and different political views. Makes you aware that no community or political party has exclusiveness on family values, patriotism or sense of community. I would be pleased to live among the Pennsylvanians I observed while on my visit here.

Loran Smith is co-host of "The Tailgate Show" and sideline announcer for Georgia football. He is also a freelance writer and columnist. Have any thoughts about this column? Share them with us at letters@gwinnettdailypost.com. Letters should be no more than 200 words and are subject to approval by the publisher. Letters may be edited for style and space requirements. Please sign your name and provide an address and a daytime telephone number. Address letters for publication to: Letters to the Editor, Gwinnett Daily Post, P.O. Box 603, Lawrenceville, GA 30046-0603. The fax number is 770-339-8081.