Earlier today, I was actually talking about this with a friend of mine who grew up in Iraq, who spoke of rights that he gained when he moved here.
Freedom of religion or lack thereof, freedom of the press (the alternative press which has not been taken over) free speech, the right to travel among the country without significant limitations, the right to deny the government the ability to search you or detain you without probable cause, the right to vote for puppet presidential candidates, and some legit ones locally. These things are not by any means reality in many other countries, and all too many complacent fools in the US don't even value these rights.
On the topic of your friend, I am sorry to hear that. In my own personal life, I couldn't manage to keep a friend like that.