What People Overseas Think Of Americans -- A Personal Anecdote

As part of the coverage of the 5th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, there were a lot of words written about how the rest of the world hates Americans. In response, I'd like to offer a personal experience that shows that there are still parts of the world where America is admired.

So there I was -- on a TAD trip to Warsaw, Poland, back when I was at CENTCOM in early 2004. I had finished up work for the day, so the U.S. Army major I was working with and I went to do a little shopping for the home folk after changing into civvies. We walked into a department store, and split up after a while to look for stuff. I had a question, so I went up to the clerk and gave her my best "Dzien dobry"; in response, she said, "I can speak English". I was a little disappointed, because I'd been working hard on the five or six Polish phrases I'd learned from the liaison officers in Tampa, so I asked her how she knew I wasn't Polish. She explained: "I knew you were an American when I saw you walk into the store, and you were talking with a black man as an equal."

So, there are still some places outside the U.S. where people know that being an American is something special.