Americans can be all that the rest of the world sometimes accuses them of: brash, loud, insular, obsessive and heavy-handed. But America is great for a reason. It is looked up to, despite all the criticism, for a reason. There is a nobility in the American character that has been developed over the centuries, derived in part, no doubt, from the frontier spirit, from the waves of migration that form the stock, from the circumstance of independence, from the Civil war, from a myriad of historical facts and coincidences. But it is there.
That nobility isn't about being nicer, better or more successful than anyone else. It is a feeling about the country. It is a devotion to the American ideal that at a certain point transcends class, race, religion or upbringing. That ideal is about values: freedom, the rule of law, democracy. It is also about the way you achieve it: on merit, by your own efforts and hard work. but it is most of all that in striving for and protecting that ideal, you as an individual take second place to the interests of the nation as a whole. it is what makes its soldiers give their lives in sacrifice. It is what brings every variety of American, from the lowest to the highest, to their feet when "The Star Spangled Banner" is played. Of course the ideal is not always met—that is obvious. But it is always striven for.
Time Magazine— September 13, 2010