An American recently hailed a cab in Germany. The driver, considerably younger than his mid-60s passenger and recognizing that his fare was from the States, exclaimed, "Ich bin ein Berliner,” showing his keen awareness of JFK's famous words in Berlin in 1962.
Such stories drive home that, despite our problems, America still means so much to the rest of the world. Truth is, if not for the incalculable blood and treasure the U.S. expended defending freedom, much of Europe and Asia would still be in rubble, its citizens under tyranny.
It’s all too easy to get caught up in our issues, falling victim to pervasive negativity while forgetting our illustrious past and losing sight of all we do right. This Thanksgiving, let’s give thanks for the world’s most benevolent nation.
America’s past is certainly not without its faults, from slavery to internment camps, and from mistreatment of Native Americans to supporting brutal foreign leaders. But through it all, America has conquered so many of its demons, expelling them in an attempt to rectify mistakes, to make things better — to make things right.
That liberalism (small “l”) has not gone unnoticed. America, for its entire existence, has been a beacon of hope for millions who crave freedom, tolerance and a fresh start.
When the Irish suffered during the potato famine, they didn’t head to Europe, but to the distant shores of America. Countless Southeast Asians, including many who fought against us in the war, sought refuge in America.
Millions who flee persecution and death from tyrants risk life and limb to make America their home. Why? Because America offers even the most downtrodden the opportunity to carve out a life whose standard of living is more than most would ever dare dream.
Like JFK, Ronald Reagan re-instilled faith in America, both at home and abroad, when he spoke in glowing terms of our nation as the “shining city on a hill,” whose potential was limited only by one’s imagination. How right he was.
Just as President Kennedy intimately connected with a Europe in the middle of the Cold War, reassuring free peoples and inspiring those trapped behind the wall, so did Reagan when he challenged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.”
And that is exactly what happened. Because of America’s resolve, the wall of oppression fell, freeing more people from authoritarian rule than at any point in world history.
America remains the rock star of the ages, with the world wanting our blue jeans and Coca Cola. Even more, they want to emulate us and everything we stand for; they want to be “American” in every sense.
Upon their nation’s surrender in World War II, Japanese officers were absolutely mystified as to how much dignity the Americans allowed them to maintain, certainly not expected since the U.S. had achieved total victory.
It is exactly that kind of benevolence, doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do, with no strings attached, that still carries the day, earning the world’s admiration.
Throughout history, victors enslaved their conquered peoples and laid waste to their lands. Yet America poured billions into Europe, Asia and the Middle East; leaving nations with which it warred and occupied better off than when it found them.
And when disaster strikes, America is always leading the way. While we’re still waiting for other nations’ aid for Katrina and Sandy, the U.S. has sent people, resources and billions to help humans in need: Haiti after its earthquake, Thailand after the tsunami, Japan after its tidal wave and nuclear disaster, and most recently, after the most powerful typhoon on record smashed the Philippines.
One only has to look at the how the world’s two biggest economies responded to the Philippines disaster, which left thousands dead and millions homeless, to see which has the moral authority. America immediately sent millions in money, manpower, and aid, opened airports, rebuilt roads and sent an aircraft carrier to coordinate rescue and relief operations.
China sent $100,000. No, that’s not a misprint. That was the incomprehensibly meager contribution from the world’s second largest economy to its neighbor.
So on this Thanksgiving, let’s say a prayer of thanks for who and what we are, and another that America’s beacon of hope always remains lit.
And God help us all if we fall.
Here’s a toast to America! Happy Thanksgiving!
Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, Freindly Fire Zone Media. Read more reports from Chris Freind — Click Here Now.
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