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I have talked over the years about the importance of owning a passport. “In today’s uncertain times, you never know when you will need to leave the country in a hurry,” I have frequently found myself saying over the years, often in a half joking but also half serious manner.
Unfortunately, that statement feels less like a joke today and the importance of that one, simple document was driven home to me today in a very real way.
A close friend of mine e-mailed today. Her grandson, who has been serving our country in Afghanistan, became suddenly and seriously ill and was admitted to a military hospital in Germany. Now, the family is scrambling to secure a passport for his mother so that she can go over there to be with him (if anyone has any tight connections with anyone in the US State Department, please let me know!)
While I have faith that the whole thing will get sorted out and that in the circumstances she will be able to secure the documentation that she needs in a quick and expedient manner, I can’t help but think of the stress that this has caused their family on top of the already significant stress of having a loved one that is ill and far away from home.
You might not think about getting a passport until you find yourself in the planning stages of a trip that will take you abroad, but a passport is not just your ticket to a great vacation. It is the document that certifies your citizenship and alliances to the rest of the world. It is the single most reliable form of identification available to us. For my family and our peace of mind, our passports are the most important documents that we have.
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You might not think that you are planning to travel internationally any time soon, but you never know when a relative will fall ill in a foreign country and be too sick to travel home, or when something will happen here in the United States that will give you cause to think about seeking refuge in other parts of the world.
At the very least, having a passport before that once in a lifetime last minute trip comes up will save you the fees and headaches associated with having your passport application expedited.
If you have never had a passport (or if your passport is expired) and you are a US citizen visit the passports page at the US State Department Website to find out how to apply or renew. These are very important reasons why you need a passport. Please take the time when you have the chance to apply for one.