Every year some advertiser gets the bright idea to tug at our patriotic heartstrings. They some near jingoistic imagery and play swelling music to try and get us all choked up and emotional that we’re living in the greatest country on earth, watching the greatest game on earth, drinking the best beer on earth, etc. And every year, amidst all the funny commercials and stupid commercials and GoDaddy commercials, the patriotic spots usually stand out and make us feel like we might have a little sand in our eyes. So we decided to compile a short list of the best feel-good commercials that show, tell, or otherwise demonstrate what it means to be an American.

5. 2008 Coke & Politics

This one had to make the cut since it’s about American politics, but almost misses the point. It’s not really patriotic in the sense that it shows what it should mean to be proud to be an American, but it accurately demonstrates our political process. Except, you know, for the part where they spend quality time listening to one another and valuing each others’ viewpoint.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MByAB_5Nmjs

4. 1988 American Airlines – Something Special

In the shadow of 1987’s Pacific Southwest Airlines tragedy near Paso Robles, CA, the Iran-Contra scandal of the Reagan Administration, and the case of Hustler v. Falwell, American Airlines tries to make people feel good about their airline and the U.S. military, all at the same time. The writing is awkward and the acting is stilted, but American did a pretty good job of making you feel like they had some not-completely-insane people flying their planes.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01AmITZz1yQ

3. 2006 Bud Light – Roof Chores

This one isn’t overtly patriotic, which is what makes it special. What could possibly be more All-American than owning a home? It’s the American Dream, after all. Then you throw in climbing up the ladder to put in an honest day’s work on by God your roof, on your house, with your tools? The fact that they’re all lying to their wives in order to score some alone time makes it all the more patriotic, in our book.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yyyHqSeLYps

2. 2006 Budweiser – American Dream

This Clydesdale favorite is a tear-jerker. The American Dream isn’t just about owning a house, or a car, or having a job. It’s not really about having specific things so much as having the freedom to achieve those things based on your own merits. It’s about the hard work you put in, and the rewards you reap by your own effort.

What this particular commercial shows is that dream from the standpoint of our children, who have dreams of becoming whatever they want to be; and even though they should achieve their dreams on their own, there’s nothing wrong with giving them a little push every now and then to get the dream off on the right track.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=veQAJ4qlltU

1. 2005 Anheuser-Busch – Thank You

This spot stands on its own. While one could say it’s emotionally manipulative and goes too far towards schmaltz and cheese, there’s something to be admired in its being unashamed to go too far in praise of our troops and our country. Sometimes, especially in the hardest times, we may have to just let all of our feelings out in order to know just how corny our feelings really are.

This piece is simply called Thank You, which as a title is almost enough on its own to get the message across.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8yvP3_iwKc