When I was a child, the Americans were always the good guys, the hero was always American, Americans were greeted as friends, they appeared (and I know history tells us otherwise when you look at places like Chile) to be on the right side of the argument.
In recent years though America (as opposed to Americans) has become the country that everyone dislikes. Led by an joke, a stolen election, an unjustifiable war, no action on global warming, detention without trial, and a sense that the USA was itself putting two fingers up to the world. Now, with the election of Obama, this can change.
I heard a US political pundit on the radio earlier talking about how today in London people were congratulating her upon hearing her accent. She talked about a warmth towards her she had not felt in London for many years as soon as people heard her accent. Another journalist, a veteran of many campaigns, himself commented that foreign friends had phoned him up to say that they would be his friends again now. He was joking, but the point was clear. Obama, a man of Kenyan descent, a man who lived in Indonesia, a leader with knowledge of the two great religions of the world, indeed a president who seems ready to work with the world can win America back its friends and can return America to the status of "good guys".
When I was on my honeymoon a little over two years ago in Mexico, our accents stood out amongst the Americans , so people often chose to talk to us out of curiosity. One day, we were chatting two a couple of Americans who were both US service personnel on leave. This husband and wife couple told us that they were proud to be American, but never admitted it when they were abroad because they were embarrassed by Bush, they were totally against the war in Iraq and they couldn't believe what a laughing stock the country had become. These two Americans from Utah would tell people they were from Canada to avoid embarrassment.
I hope they can both hold their heads high today and proudly say they are American because the voters of the United States did their country proud yesterday.