Due to the subtleties of the calendar, I always get Memorial Day on The 12. I have posted solemn Memorial Day reflections in the past and could do it again, having just now had a lump in my throat come when I saw the flag at the entrance of our development flying at half mast. There is a lot to say about sacrifice. But, alas, I feel it is time for something new.
I’ve decided to take up the divisive topic of American Exceptionalism. There is pressure on American politicians to assert that the USA is the greatest country in the world and that her citizens far outshine others. This is hard work for some of our more thoughtful leaders and anyone who has traveled internationally. I’ve decided to help them along.
Readers outside of the dear old US of A may not grasp how desperately America could use a little encouragement. We’ve been beaten down and plagued by years of internal partisan divisiveness. We’re not sure why the rest of the world doesn’t welcome our spying. Above all, we’re confused by Beyonce’s sister whomping on Jay-Z in an elevator. There is a lot of negativity out there.
America, remind yourself of those unique things you do better than anyone else.
Game Shows. Rad van Fortuin. La Rueda de La Fortuna. Lykkehjulet. 命運之輪. Glücksrad-Gala. Pilih atau Dia. No matter how you spell it, it says “Wheel of Fortune” in any language.
Coca-Cola. ‘Nuff said. I know the French think they are special with their wine and the Belgians are pretty proud of their beer, but we gave the world Coke (and Pepsi and Mt. Dew and Dr. Pepper and Seven Up.) We’ve rotted teeth without prejudice around the globe.
Stand Up Comedy. Here we enter the touchy realm of religion. The Jewish-American contribution to comedy is unparalleled. Other religions have produced fine comedians, too. Jeff Foxworthy is a bona fide evangelical Christian. The Catholic Church gave us George Carlin. Your turn, Islam.
The World Series. That’s right – our baseball teams play the World Series and we don’t care that the rest of the world cannot participate. Take that, soccer, with your fancy World Cup.
American Pickers. American Idol. American Gladiators. American Airlines. American Gigolo. American Reformed. American Express. American Tourister. American Eagle. American Motors. American Beauty. American Greetings. American Pie. American Standard.
Fast Food. Remember Arthur Treacher’s Fish and Chips? British food couldn’t get a toe hold here. Meanwhile, the world loves Kentucky Fried Chicken. And don’t get me started on McDonalds. It’s only a matter of time before McDonalds opens in Antarctica.
Toilet paper. If you’ve traveled, you know.
Riding mowers. Come to think of it, we lead the world in lawns, too.
Bed, Bath and Beyond. Other countries could come up with Bed and Bath. You have to come to America for Beyond.
Jazz, R&B. Yes, Pop music was strangled by the British Invasion. But who inspired the British Invasion?
Surf Music. Not just the Beach Boys. How about Dick Dale and the Del Tones?
The Godfather, Scarface, Chinatown. Though the name film noir is foreign, the darkness belongs to us.
Breaking Bad. More of the same. Nobody explores the depths of evil like we do. And speaking of methamphetamine, I heard this week that American meth is particularly popular in Asia. Yet another successful export.
Casinos. It is illegal to gamble almost everywhere, but all Americans live within ten minutes of a casino.
St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, Tulip Time, Epcot. We look at ethnicity as a reason to get drunk, turn a river green and, above all, make money.
Yes, it is easy to get carried away considering American superiority. Do you want to live in North Korea?
I’ve lived overseas. I understand we’ve got a bit of a ways to go viz-a-viz things like high speed rail and bread, yet even with that my friends in other countries are insecure about their place in the world. They like to point out that Finland regularly kicks our butt in math scores. But I’ve been to Finland. Let me tell you what they’ve got: saunas, reindeer, Nokia and a diet rich in Omega-3 squid oil. We’ve got Burger King. Not just burgers, but the burger king. The king!
And speaking of the king, I guess I should mention we’ve got Elvis, too.
Pause and give thanks this Memorial Day. There is nothing quite like American cheese.