The United States were found upon principles established during the Enlightenment, as previously noted, and established governance by Rule of Law. With the possible exception of the Greek city-states, this was the first country in the world to do so. That alone makes it unique, and all else that followed, well or ill, until recently, was the result of a free people under a limited government. (See poem at end, written 35 years ago. Still applicable today.)
Once, many years ago late at night, I walked through the Chinatown section of my city with a friend looking for an open restaurant. Here were two kids, one descended from Polish Jews and the other from Italian Catholics looking for Chinese food. Just as we were about to enter the restaurant of our choice, we nearly bumped into a Chinese kid (who turned out to be the owner's son) who was hurrying inside carrying a stack of pizzas for the kitchen staff's dinner. "Only in America!" said my friend.
France symbolizes wine and Frenchness. Try speaking English in the wrong place at the wrong time and you're assessed a fine.
Italy had its place in the sun during Roman times. I'm sure when Rome was young, Romans went around the known world waving id scrolls in foreign official's faces while shouting "You can't do this, I'm a Roman!" Imperialism isn't specific to any time or culture. It's just sad the US has devolved so fast. But still, it was only 65 odd years ago they saved the world.
Mankind Loosed, author Unknown
I have died in Viet Nam but I have walked the face of the moon.
I have befouled the waters and tainted the air of a magnificent land but I have made it safe from disease.
I have flown through the sky faster than the sun but I have idled in streets made ugly with traffic.
I have littered the land with garbage but I have built upon it 100 million homes.
I have divided schools with my prejudice but I have sent armies to unite them.
I have beat down my enemies with clubs but I have built courtrooms to keep them free.
I have built a bomb to destroy the world but I have used it to light a light.
I have outraged my brothers in the alleys of the ghettos but I have transplanted a human heart.
I have scribbled out filth and pornography but I have elevated the philosophy of man.
I have watched children starve from my golden towers but I have fed half the earth.
I was raised in a grotesque slum but I am surfeited by the silver spoon of opulence.
I live in the greatest country in the world in the greatest time in history but I scorn the ground I stand upon.
I am ashamed but I am proud. I am an American