Brits salute United States

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 6, 2002

Our British cousins can be frightfully critical of those of us who live across the pond.'

Briton Matthew Engel, chief American correspondent for the left-wing British newspaper, The Guardian, has been known to come down hard on the former colonies on more than one occasion.

However, Engel recently surprised many readers when he penned an article titled "Fifty Ways to Love America." One of those surprised and delighted readers was American journalist Richard Reeves.

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Reeves, a syndicated columnist who lives in London, shared some of those 50 reasons to celebrate the U.S. in a column that ran June 15 in the Huntsville Times.

As both a BBC America-loving Anglophile and a true-blue U.S. citizen, I was quite intrigued by Engel's comments. I am pleased to share a few of them with you…with a few bracketed comments of my own tossed in. Enjoy!

"1. Race. It's been a 140-year journey and the U.S. hasn't arrived yet. But Europe is way behind in racial diversity and equality…Two of the five most important leaders (in Washington) are black (Powell and Rice) and no one comments."

"2. The legislators actually think and matter…they are not lobby-fodder."

"4. The ever-open shops."

"5. The weather: amazing, decisive, thrilling. At every season there are crystalline days of cloudless perfection." [Absolutely true, no matter where you live in this country.]

"12. Cities that don't have the life sucked out of them by an over-dominant capital. Chicago is exhilaratingly beautiful. Manchester and Birmingham [England] ain't."

"14. The petrol [gasoline] is dirt cheap…[yes, folks, compared to UK prices,

it's a steal.]

"16. America has a sense of occasion. Oh, sure, we can do a good jubilee. [America] makes every rite of passage into an event: commencement, homecoming, the high school prom, whatever." [That's right…most UK students don't even get a graduation ceremony!]

"17. Walk-in closets."

"19. Ice-the Americans' birthright." [You will never appreciate a big, cold glass of Co-cola' filled with lots of ice until you have had a few undersized, ice-free, lukewarm glasses of soft drink in the UK

at $1.50 or more a pop.]

"23. Paper towels in the public toilets

not just those useless hot-air things." [Amen, brother!]

"39. Public libraries that are usually open."

"42. The First Amendment." [Something we can all treasure.]

"43. The Pacific shoreline."

"45. Yard sales."

"50. The sense that things are getting less decrepit, not continually worse…God bless America."