It's time for a breather, America. Fire up the grill, ice down the drinks, and pop open that patio umbrella. Health care, the oil spill, Afghanistan, China, Elena Kagan and financial reform will all be waiting on Tuesday, July 6th. We promise. What won't be, though, is the chance to lean back and remember why we care enough about our country to spar over these things and in the end, remain united.
"Freedom," Albert Camus pointed out, "is nothing else but a chance to be better." For 234 years, America has strived, fought, invented, pushed, pulled and dragged itself towards the better. Fortune was keen to enumerate our progress.
There's no claim to ranking or exclusivity here, so leave the nitpicking aside for another day, though feel free to add to our list in the comments section. Without further ado, and in almost no particular order, we present the Fortune 100 Great Things About America.
1. The Internet
Oh yes, invented in the USA -- maybe Al Gore helped.
2. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights
America's pastime…steroids or not
4. Mount Rushmore
Home of the original "your face here" gimmick
5. Food in New Orleans
If you can remember it the next morning
6. Rock and roll
Find a Beatles or Stones song uninfluenced by American music. Just try.
Mauna Kea, Kaua'i…you gotta see it to believe it.
Carolina, Mississippi, K.C., Memphis…it's all good.
10. Ford Mustang
Who needs a German car? We'll take the classic.
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Because this is a real sentence: Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo. Don't believe us? Check on #11.
13. Slam dunks
Thanks to Doctor J
If the Lion King ever closes, Cats will come back.
Listen to mine sing
Because no one stands up to China better
17. Mark Twain
The original American bad-ass
19. Iced drinks
When will the rest of the world figure this out?
Cape Cod, Kiawah, Zuma -- ours are better.
21. Madison Square Garden
A little threadbare but still the biggest stage in America's biggest city
22. Delivery pizza
23. The Grateful Dead
Long may the followers of Uncle John's Band live on.
We keep clicking on home videos even after Charlie bit our finger -- again!
25. The Super Bowl
The parties, the ads -- oh and a sports game, too
China rules the commercial catch, but more people fish for fun here than anywhere else.
A game we sometimes play in real life, too.
28. The Big Apple Circus
Where joy and, occasionally, fear comes in clown twelve-packs by tiny car
Imitators don't stand a chance
Friend us? Just kidding… but seriously. Please friend us.
Loosen your belt and watch the parade
32. Pickup trucks
Our nation's first outlet for unfunny bumper stickers
33. The Simpsons
May Bart and Lisa never make it to high school.
34. Oprah Winfrey
But after 2011, no more free cars for the audience
Not just for dogs
36. Mad Men
Jon Hamm + Christina Hendricks = cooler than the actual '60s
37. New York/Boston sports rivalry
For our safety, we decline to comment.
38. MRI machine
Perfect for after that Yanks-Sox game
The first to make polyester clothes out of old plastic bottles
40. Archie Comics
Betty or Veronica: 68 years and the debate rages on
41. The Golden Gate Bridge
Dirty Harry meets Full House. Uh oh.
43. Fantasy football
45. Trader Joe's
If cheap wine were apples, we present the modern Johnny Appleseed. Amen.
46. The 4th of July
47. Harley Davidson
The motorcycle company that has survived both the Great Depression and the Hybrid Obsession
48. March Madness
So crazy it spills into April
As Facebook proved, it's Scrabulous
Even useful when empty, as moorings