Written by Tony Mussari
Photographs by Kitch Mussari
Copyright 2011, Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD

Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man. Benjamin Franklin

Kitch and I would like to extend our best wishes to you for a New Year blessed with peace, joy and good health.

In an attempt to say thank you to the many people who helped us during our travels, we put together a slide show that summarizes some of the highlights of our Face of America Journey. It is very simple in design, and very selective in nature. It is the first in a series of video projects that will enable us to share our story with you.

The video contains images from 24 states and 50 cities. The pictures represent 276 of the more than 450 people we met during our travels.
You can see the slide show in the video section of our website:


2010 is a year we will not soon forget.

It exceeded every expectation in terms of adventure, discovery, growth and an understanding of what is really important in life.

Our year began on the snow covered streets of Yarmouth, Maine. It ended quietly on an unseasonably warm day here at home. After a week of wonderful visits with former students, friends, Elena, Jeff and our grandchildren, the last day of the year was reserved for Kitch and me. That’s the way we have spent this special day for most of our married life. 

Like people all over the world, today we continue our journey. We look forward with hope to a future with many uncertainties and an equal number of opportunities. We take comfort in the words of Emerson:

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.

Last evening, Kitch and I talked about some of the things we learned about our country and its people during our Face of America Journey.

1. In Maine, we learned to be grateful for gift of age. “You get old because you stop doing things,” Frank Knight told us. “You don’t stop doing things because you get old.” The former tree warden of Yarmouth knows what he is talking about. He is 102 years young.

2. In New Jersey, we learned to be grateful for what our friend, Richard Loomis called the genius of the young. It was Monica Ramirez, a senior at North Plainfield High School, who put everything into perspective with these words, “No matter what happens, somebody will be there to catch you.”

3. In Virginia, we learned to be grateful for the gift of grandchildren.  It was my granddaughter who taught me the importance of self-deprecating humor. “I like you Papa Tony. You make me laugh. You are funny.”  

4. In Kentucky, we developed a greater appreciation for the words of Thomas Merton, beautiful words like contemplation and silence. “In the silence of God, we taste the sweetness of our own souls, the peace of our own hearts.”

5. In Little Rock, Arkansas, we learned about the power of courage.  We were humbled by stories of the Little Rock Nine and their parents who stepped forward in 1957 to open the doors of Central High School to everyone. The words of Elizabeth Eckford apply.  “When you reach out to someone who is being harassed, it is powerful to them. You in effect, and I’m not exaggerating, you can help them live another day.”

6. On a cold night in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Dr. Robert Fugate showed us the incredible beauty of that part of space that lies beyond the earth and the moon. It was a stunning moment that we will never forget.

7. Crossing the desert in Arizona, we were enveloped in the vast expanse of open space. The mystery

8. In California, we experienced the healing power of hospitality. Former students and friends old and new welcomed us and made us feel at home. Jack Rushton shared words that to this day help us deal with the unexpected surprises life gives us. “You have to accept those things you will never be able to change.”

9. In Utah, our friend Paul Swenson opened a door to a magical afternoon with U.S. Olympians. It was an opportunity to experience excellence in ways we never dreamed possible. Lauren Cholewinski, one of the rising stars in the Olympic movement, shared words that everyone needs to hear:

“What’s impossible for one person could be just a challenge for another. You should take everything in stride as a challenge versus Oh, I can’t do this. Just look at it as I’m going to do this. I’m going to get there.”

10. In Minnesota, we learned to be grateful for the gift of life, the most precious gift of all. In the rush of morning traffic, we learned how quickly life can turn to death. We did not know it then, but we would learn this lesson again before the first phase of our project ended.

These are but a few of the lessons we learned during our journey. Each one speaks to America on its best day.  Each one is given life by the people we met.  They are a part of the mosaic of the Face of America on its best day. What we learned from them helps us to look forward with hope, optimism and a feeling of confidence in our country and its people.

Emerson’s words best describe what Kitch and I are feeling as we begin the New Year. “Write on your heart that every day is the best day of the year.”.