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6 degrees of separation? Try 20 degrees and 2,200 miles

6 degrees of separation? Try 20 degrees and 2,200 miles

Posted: Friday, July 9, 2010 8:02 pm
By: Emily Williams, Messenger Intern

If you have ever found yourself reading Union City’s July forecast calling for highs of only 75 degrees, there is a good, though unfortunate, chance it is a mistake.
This has happened to me one too many times. I forget the simple “TN” at the end of many of my Google searches and end up with “local” information for a town 2,200 miles away — Union City, Calif.
So I decided to do a little research on the town whose weather forecasts and restaurant selection often get my hopes up. And though there are 10 other cities in the United States with which we share a name, this is the farthest, largest and, potentially, the most different from our beloved hometown.
Union City, Calif., just celebrated its 50th anniversary last year and is the result of the incorporation of two smaller California towns in 1959. 
At just 30 minutes from San Francisco, the city has about 74,000 residents, more than seven times our population. The average listing price for a home is $459,692, according to the city’s website, and the cost-of-living index is 156.8, very high compared to the U.S. average of 100.
CityData.com’s list of Top 100 cities puts the California version of Union City as the No. 1 city with the most Filipino residents, the No. 2 city with the most Korean residents and No. 4 on the list of the most racially diverse cities.
It is also the home of the first monument designed specifically to honor the passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93, which was bound for San Francisco but was hijacked and crashed in rural Pennsylvania Sept. 11, 2001.
So how would everyday life be different if we lived in zip code 94587 instead of 38261?
When we woke up this morning the temperature would have been 59 degrees. We probably would have eaten lunch at the Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot or Gerry’s Grill. Tonight, we might go to the movies at Century 25 Theater and right now we wouldn’t be reading The Daily Messenger but The Argus.
But more important than the differences between our Union City and the west coast Union City is what the two have in common.
Aside from a high sales tax, which is 9.75 percent in both, they are cities in the greatest country in the world.
Despite the problems we have — and are facing — in the United States, this is a country where we have the freedom to practice religion without the fear of persecution, to study what we choose, to live where we want and to write and broadcast as we see fit.
It’s a country where a person can go from rags to riches through his own hard work and determination; a country that brought the world the lightbulb, the car, the airplane, the telephone and Facebook; and a country with men and women who are willing to fight for all of us so we might keep the way of life we too often take for granted.
Emily Williams, daughter of Roger and Juli Williams of Woodland Mills, is a senior at Rhodes College in Memphis. She is interning at The Messenger.
Published in The Messenger 7.9.10

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