Iím always inspired by the earnest love that ordinary Americans show for their country. I envy it. Nationalism in the UK is a dirty word (largely because itís been sullied by racists), so instead we have a soft patriotism that prefers to keep itself to itself. For us, love of country is probably best expressed by a Sunday afternoon walk across the Surrey Downs. Itís a half remembered school hymn about vowing something to someone-or-other, or a fevered argument about the best way to make a cup of tea. English patriotism is about as fulfilling as a Greggs pasty.
In contrast, American patriotism is sharper and more certain Ė and more fixedly about ideas. Its promise is individual freedom. But that freedom is guaranteed Ė just like victory in a baseball game Ė by thinking and acting as a team or a nation. One of the reasons why civil society works in the US slightly better than it does in Britain is that they understand the balance of rights and responsibilities between the individual and the group. Without the security of a welfare state, Americans are acculturated to risk and sacrifice, and so (ironically) they can be a little more charitable than us. They are certainly more free.
After the game we moved to a bar and got chatting with some young marines, who were talking excitedly about the fact that they are going to present the flag at one of the ballgames next week. After that, they will fly off to war. We are lucky to share the world with a nation that produces men like these.