I don't know of any country that holds any 'moral high ground' and there are virtually no countries without a checkered past or present, BUT many of them manage to hold onto their identity through times of crisis and not forget what made them special.
Post 9/11 America is fundamentally different from pre 9/11 America in ways that previous generations of Americans would be (and probably are) horrified by.
We've basically given up many of the things that made us standout (despite our moral outrages.) Due process, habeas corpus, NO torture, the 4th amendment.
I'm not sure what history books you read in school, but mine clearly covered slavery, Native American genocide, racism, sexism, et cetera... College/University went further of course, but high school was pretty thorough about how deeply flawed we (and every other country made up of human beings) had been.
Interestingly, that same education made it clear that post 9/11 America has introduced changes that quite closely mirror changes in 1920/30's in totalitarian governments where those in power fear the truth as the government clearly does now in America, and believe that the end justifies the means.
This one thing alone, I believe, is the antithesis of what I believed America to be based upon - that the ends do NOT justify the means. That how you play the game is more important than the results.
That being true to being an American was more important than if you were killed because of it.
Now, that's criminally easy of me to say without having to offer any sacrifice, but I truly believe that.
"They who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." - Possibly our greatest American.