Thursday February 13, 2003; 10:00 AM
An open letter to America from one European
From: James Black, Wychwood Park, Cheshire, England
You quirky mix of 280 million misfits that have somehow blended into the strongest nation in the world, I write to offer you four apologies and two vows.
1) I, James Black, a European passport holder whose parents are Scottish,whose wife is English, and whose four children are free to be whatever they may want to be (directly because of the sacrifice of your nation), am ashamed for pointing out to a colleague while visiting your country a few days ago that Winston Churchill was wrong when he said the biggest difference between Britain and the United States was the fact we both spoke the same language -- and instead, telling him that the real difference between our peoples was actually about 100 pounds per person.
2) I, who work as a journalist with the Daily Mail, one of Britain's national newspapers, and (directly because of the sacrifice of your nation) is able to say exactly what he wants whenever he wants without fear of death or imprisonment, would also like to apologise for saying to the same colleague that many of the Americans I met were far less sophisticated and worldly than Europeans.
3) I, James Black, a man born free of social or physical shackles and chains, who is able to travel around the world and visit other countries and who (directly because of the sacrifice of your nation) is able to converse, discuss, even argue with people from other nations, would like to apologise for mocking your president and your political system.
Your president may not be the sharpest knife in the cutlery set, but I now understand he and the good people of the United States operate not just from a high intellectual stance, but also from the heart -- a heart that knows the difference between good and evil. And importantly, your president was smart enough to have picked the best to sit with him at the world table.
4) I, whose friends, family and colleagues are allowed to set up home, take a job, even run for politician, in any part of the European Union (directly because of the sacrifice of your nation) without being rounded up because of their religion or shot on the spot for their place of birth would finally like to apologise for the biggest mistake the people of my continent have ever made -- their total lack of respect for the greatest friend they will ever have -- the United States of America.
My anger at some of my fellow Europeans is more than palpable. I hear the self-centered, cowardly, and just plain annoying words thrown out by old-minded -- old world -- so-called leaders of the Free World.
I may have made fun of America and Americans, but deep down I know this is only friendly banter between the greatest of friends -- and friends who should give their all to each other when called upon to do so. So I, whose grandfather fought in both World Wars and had the good humour to suggest the Americans were late for both events, but the sense to point out they ensured victory when they finally did show up, make my first vow:
1) I will never forget or dishonour the amazing and courageous sacrifice of the people of the United States in coming to the aid of the world over the past ten decades. The men and women who left peace and prosperity in a land of plenty to face bullet and shrapnel on the beaches of Normandy and around the World.
2) I will honour the debt my small island nation owes for your unswerving devotion to aiding our continued freedom. Your help when we stood small and alone against the plague of Nazi aggression. Your assistance in making us strong when the battle was finished and the peace began, and your protection from a colder enemy in the decades that followed. I have stood, and I will stand again, with my own family, in places such as the cemetery of Colleville-sur-Mer, an eternal resting place for over 10,000 teen and twenty-something Americans who gave over ALL their future so that I and my children could have a future today, and I will again pledge my eternal gratitude.
3) I, James Black, a man who simply wants his children to live in a future where all good and constructive things are possible, a future where we can discover, invent, enjoy, without fear of fanatics or madmen or the weapons and pain they may wreak, pledge my assistance to the United States in its fight against evil. This pledge is not some brainwashed verse, but based on the honourable history and proven friendship the United States has with Europe. Further, it is based on the fact that the people and leaders of the United States have the foresight to see the world, even life itself, is futile
I am one person, but there are millions like me who thank the USA and wish your nation and your people all the best over the next few months -- and will be there by your side when the times get tough.
Yours with all my gratitude,
James Black, Wychwood Park, Cheshire, England
P.S.: It is said that today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday. You should be proud as a nation that you have something to do with the fact it didn't turn out so badly after all -- nor should it again.
Black handles the Answers to Correspondents column
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