30 Great Things About America

It’s in vogue to hate on America these days and to pretend not to be proud to be an American, but this is just silly. On this Independence Day weekend, I think it’s important to take stock of the good things we have in this country… and here are just a few authentically American things that I’m thankful for:

  • Apple pie ala mode
  • Visits to an ice cream parlor on hot summer evening
  • The Kansas prairie… especially in the hours between a late afternoon thunderstorm and a humid sunset.
  • Sweet Iowa corn
  • Drive-in movies: combining two American favorites—movies and cars.
  • Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Boston, actually most all of the old colonial cities…
  • Barbecues: dad at the grill, mom pouring lemonade, kids playing with water balloons
  • Mount Rushmore: how deliciously kitschy and American to turn a mountain into a postcard
  • Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, and Harrison Ford: between the three of them we have Saving Private Ryan, Forrest Gump, Apollo Thirteen, Band of Brothers, Indiana Jones, Air Force One, Patriot Games, and countless other quintessentially American films.
  • Baseball. Whether a little league game in rural Idaho or a sold out game at Wrigley Field, baseball is a gorgeous articulation of the American spirit.
  • Disneyland and Disneyworld: the crowds, the idealistic nostalgia, the capitalism, the innocence…
  • Extreme diversity. Living in L.A. has driven the point home: America is truly the most diverse country in the world, and it’s a great thing.
  • The National Park System. There’s nothing like it in the world.
  • College sports: do other countries even have something so great as the NCAA?
  • Ken Burns documentaries: Baseball, Jazz, The Civil War, The War… they’re all so exceedingly American.
  • The Oregon Trail: the computer game AND the actual trail.
  • Wilderness: there actually is some left, in remote corners of the American West.
  • Cowboys and Indians
  • Our great poets: Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, Edgar Allen Poe, etc
  • Our great novelists: Flannery O’Connor, William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, Jack Kerouac, Walker Percy, etc.
  • Western films: John Ford, John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Monument Valley.
  • The Gold Rush
  • The Gilded Age
  • Woodstock: the lasting iconic moment of that most iconic of all American decades, the 60s.
  • Prohibition and the Jazz Age: if only because it gave birth to the best American book of the 20th century (see next item).
  • The Great Gatsby: No words have ever captured the complex beauty and dream of America as Fitzgerald’s in this book.
  • New York and Chicago-style pizza
  • Art deco skyscrapers
  • Our shared national love of kitsch (see towns like Las Vegas, Pigeon Forge, and Branson)
  • The Super Bowl
  • Charlie Brown
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16 responses to “30 Great Things About America

  1. Fantastic list, Brett! I’d add:
    Relief organizations
    Religious faith
    Educational and Financial Opportunity
    Democracy
    Capitalism
    Comedy clubs
    Disneyland

  2. As someone whose spent their entire life in so-called “flyover country” (i.e., Nebraska), I’ll say that there are no skies like those of Nebraska, be it in the “big” cities of Omaha and Lincoln, or way out in the Sandhills.

    And for a second, I thought that last one was Charles Bronson… which I think would be pretty appropriate as well. :)

  3. Also:
    NPR, PBS, Garrison Keillor and Roger Ebert…Wendell Berry…and Marc Chagall’s America Windows.

    Oh, and Disneyland!!!!

  4. oh you said Disneyland! Well, I missed it on the initial scrolldown. haha

  5. I was happy to be directed here via Opus and find I list I agreed with. Well done, Brett.

    Then I saw the first comment and I knew I had to object. Religious Faith?! Really? It may be authentically American to dream that we did something here first, or that we have the purest example of something the rest of the world desperately needs, but you couldn’t say that about Religious Faith; at least, it didn’t start here. Let’s not forget Rome, not to mention Jerusalem, Antioch, Greece, Russia, etc…!

  6. Maybe I’m a stick in the mud, but I don’t really see what’s worth celebrating w/r/t cowboys and Indians.

  7. I love the inclusion of “The Great Gatsby”. I taught F.S. Fitzgerald’s classic American novel for seven years as a high school English teacher, and never got tired of it. I think there’s a little Nick, Jay, and/or Daisy in all of us Americans.

  8. As a complete ‘outsider’, my visits to America have taken in Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Salt Lake City, Seattle (along with Disneyland and Universal Studios), and a few Mid-Western towns – but I would like to offer ‘patriotism’ a place on the list. In my experience, NOTHING comes close to it anywhere else in the world. You should all be grateful to live in such a great country.

  9. Wow i so wanna move to America now, i live in sydney Australia. how do i talk my parents into moving to America?

    • Tell your parents everyone will love you here in texas because you will have a really cool accent so move to texas and you will have lots of friends:) we are a very friendly state … we wave to strangers, and they wave backkk!!!!!

  10. Tell them about all the benefits and move to Texas :)

  11. Robin Chalkley

    Brett, I just found your site…ironically, while checking to see how my blog showed up on Google. I’ve been doing a blog called “Great American Things” here on WordPress for just over a year now, and we’ve thought alike about a number of things. Of course, my list is now over 350, so I’ve covered a bit more territory. Stop by and visit: http://americanthings.wordpress.com.

  12. this was stupid website to whoever made it

  13. why to go search ……… you’re country is best location in world

  14. I agree with most of it except for the mention of baseball (puaj) :P
    I discovered this blog today and I think I’ll become a follower, but there’s something that as a latin american always bothers me when I read posts like this: America is a continent, not just the U.S.\
    ;)

  15. Pingback: Best of the Blog’s First Five Years | The Search

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