The "US: American Stories" Project began over 25 years ago when I took my first picture of a small town 4th of July parade.

Looking at the developed images (this was long before digital cameras, kids) I was moved by the spirit of these people, young and old, and the pride and joy they shared in this distinctly American ritual. And it occurred to me that my camera had no influence on the moment, that there were people, places and things in this country that never made the national news nor would ever make a blockbuster Hollywood movie. That to some people, first place in a New Hampshire soapbox derby was just as glorious as first place at the Daytona 500. That a kiss between a cowboy and his girlfriend at the National High School Rodeo Finals could be more passionate than Rock Hudson and Liz Taylor in "Giant". That the underlying psychology to Demolition Derbies all but summed up male adolescence, much to the chagrin of parents everywhere: teenage boys like to blow shit up. Yet somehow Dr. Phil left that one out.

"US: American Stories" celebrates the grist of this country, the things that are not glamorous, sexy or trendy enough for marquee headlines. It gives a voice to those small pockets of America that neither have nor particularly want one. It is the true spine of this country, and it is worth much more than just a look.

- Mike Toth