YES, I’ve been away. In the Land of the Free, taking in what felt like the country’s entire east coast. It was a great trip made all the more so by the chance to meet so many lovely Americans, including the awe-inspiring people of the Mother Emanuel church in Charleston who, despite suffering an horrific gun-outrage a few months ago, were gracious enough to allow me to achieve a lifetime’s ambition and visit a church where the Rev Martin Luther King Jnr had preached.

Of all the things that surprise them most about us in the USA, it’s the fact that our cops are not routinely armed and we don’t tend to have mass shootings. Having heard about shootings - including the one at Umpqua college in Oregon - every night of our stay, I wondered about it myself, especially when news of the death of PC Dave Phillips filtered through.

The full facts of this incident will be decided by a jury but who could argue with Merseyside’s chief constable, Sir Jon Murphy, who said: “David’s death serves as a reminder of the risks that the men and women of this force, and the other forces in the UK, face in serving the public. They come to work, day in, day out, knowing the risks they all face.”

If PC Phillips had been armed, might he have lived? Again, that’s another question for another day.

But what IS searingly apparent is that in the USA, those who serve are held in far higher regard than they are here.

On Tuesday I went to the 9/11 memorial. If you’ve seen it you’ll know what I mean. If you haven’t, nothing can prepare you for the enormity of the site and its solemn record of the sacrifice made by security personnel, fire staff and, of course, cops.

Their names are inscribed with the fullest dignity. The reverence with which visitors touched these names and wept was deeply moving, as was the Americans’ general love for their armed services and those whose work, they recognise and believe, keeps them safe and free.

As a country we like to consider we do many things better than our American cousins. And not allowing 33,000 of our fellow citizens to die of gunshot wounds every year is certainly one of them. But what we don’t do nearly enough is honour those who serve us.

We may rally round, bring flowers and donate cash when tragedies like that of PC Phillips occur. But we don’t treat our military veterans like they do, with meaningful schemes, preferential mortgage offers, education and respect for the difficult jobs they do.

The day I was reading online about a UK airforceman being told to remove his uniform in case it caused offence, we were driving through US towns in which sign after sign proudly declared their support for their armed services. Service personnel in uniform are seen as a reassuring presence in America.

So while we rightly mourn the courage and decency of PC Phillips and all he stood for, we are damned hypocrites if we allow our police, firemen and women and all those in our armed services to be bullied and demeaned for the difficult job they do on all our behalves.

Because, when it comes to genuine support and respect for these people, America is teaching the lesson we all need to learn.

Another one bites the dust 

ACCORDING to Kerry Katona’s spokesperson it is: ‘With deep sadness that Kerry announces the end of her marriage to George Kay.

‘But don’t worry, it won’t be long before she discovers yet another completely unsuitable bloke to get hitched to and in 12 months time we’ll be saying this all over again, won’t we?’ OK, I made up the last sentence. But that’s what’s going to happen, isn’t it?

Rugby players got confused with football team 

BEFORE we went away, lots of our mates asked how my rugby-obsessed old man would ‘cope’ without seeing England in the World Cup. Thankfully he missed it all. However, once the full nightmare of our loss became clear it’s obvious what went wrong: England’s rugby men have obviously confused themselves with the England football team.

Nurse has it absolutely right 

WELL done nurse Stacey Williams of Liverpool, absolutely nailing the situation many hospital staff find themselves in at the moment.

“We are told we need to be 24/7 by people who do not work 24/7,” she says. Bang on the money. When MPs give up their 13-week summer holiday, their four-day week and their half-terms, their three weeks off for party conferences and two weeks at Easter and Christmas, THEN they can start lecturing.

Little tipple didn't do my baby harm 

DID you read the latest scare ‘story’ that ‘middle-class mums are putting their baby at risk by ‘light’ drinking? Apparently this can cause the sprog to be born premature, underweight and with a low IQ.

After I decided that natural birth huffing and puffing classes were not for me, my lovely midwife said it would be fine to have a sherry-glass of wine every day instead, if I felt it would be relaxing.

So I did. And my baby weighed 7lbs 12 oz, was two weeks overdue and is just embarking on his Masters degree in Environmental Science.

Looking stern is what husbands do 

VICTORIA Beckham has reportedly hit back at allegations that her marriage is ‘in trouble’ and I don’t blame her. The reason people are commenting? Apparently hubby David ‘looked stern’ as he walked her away from a party at her shop. Ye Gods! If your husband ‘looking stern’ was a sign of a failing marriage there wouldn’t be a married woman left in the country.

Looking stern is what husbands do. Especially when you prang the car, purchase yet another pair of ‘essential’ shoes, or get squiffy at a party. Ahem.

Please note: This piece by Faith is an opinion piece and not a news report. You can contact Faith by tweeting @HerFaithness