But when those fireworks go off tonight, I'll be watching. And thinking. Thinking about single mothers, mechanics, dental students, pain-pill addicts, homeless drunks, county prisoners, veteran amputees, immigrant students, preachers, burnt-out bartenders, football coaches, nurses, electricians, factory workers, janitors, writers. You.

DEAR SEAN:

The nation is going down the toilet, bro, and it is people like you (no offense) who are inadvertently doing more harm than good.

I don’t mean to be a hater, but Americans suck right now, dude. I know you mean well, but nothing’s going to change if you keep writing little candy-coated vignettes and ignore our problems.

Thanks,
NOT FEELING VERY PATRIOTIC THIS YEAR BRO

DEAR UNPATRIOTIC:

A few candy-coated vignettes for you:

Meet Mary—single mother with three kids. Her husband shot himself with a hunting rifle after serving in Iraq.

She goes to baseball games, soccer games, piano recitals, 4H Club, Girl Scouts, and still finds time to make supper.

She works as a receptionist, and helps her brother-in-law landscape on weekends.

“Some days I don’t know if I’m gonna cry or scream,” she told me. “I keep telling myself, God’s gonna gimme strength.”

Here’s some more candy-coating:

John. Guitarist and singer. He’s played in small bars since high school. His father called John a “loser,” and “lazy.”

Not true.

John met a girl. A dental assistant, attending school to become a dentist. Her parents are immigrants, she doesn’t have much money.

They got married. John gave up music to work three jobs and fund her tuition.

“I spend my days on scaffolding,” said John. “Painting commercial buildings, and part-time with an electrician, man I’m hauling ass, but I love her.”

God bless love.

Another: I’ll call her Candy —that seems appropriate. She met a man. She was a hairdresser, he was military.

He got deployed. There was an incident. Now he has a prosthetic leg.

She had children with him. They’ve gone through hell.

Today, be stays at home, caring for kids, packing lunches, kissing scraped knees. She cuts hair.

“You wouldn’t believe our cool life,” says Candy. “Having kids has actually healed my husband’s heart.”

Her oldest brought her husband to classroom career day. It had been a long time since he wore his old uniform.

He told his story and made his forefathers proud.

How about Don:

A white-haired mechanic who’s had grease under his fingernails since his teens. And for almost that long, he’s driven he same ugly Ford.

The vehicle finally gave up the ghost.

Don junked the truck and has been hitching rides.

On his birthday: a catered Dunkin Donut breakfast, greeting cards, balloons, and something else. His coworkers led him outside, blindfolded.

A red Ford Ranger with fifty-seven thousand miles.

Wrapped in a big ribbon.

Anyway, you have every right to not like where this country is going, friend. And who am I to tell you how to feel about the Fourth of July?

But when those fireworks go off tonight, I’ll be watching. And thinking. Thinking about single mothers, mechanics, dental students, pain-pill addicts, homeless drunks, county prisoners, veteran amputees, immigrant students, preachers, burnt-out bartenders, football coaches, nurses, electricians, factory workers, janitors, writers. You.

And my granddaddy, who fought hard just to pay bills, turn soil, and forget the War that changed him. I’m talking about ordinary people. Americans.

I’m sorry you don’t feel patriotic this year. But as for me, I am proud as hell.

Bro.

63 comments

  1. Marisa Franca @ All Our Way - July 4, 2017 12:43 pm

    There you go again making me cry!! I think of my parents who packed up two kids, one trunk and boarded a ship to come to this country. They were proud as peacocks to be in the United States. They worked hard, never took any money from the government (except their social security after they’d retired), put me through college and when they died left me with some of their savings. They were model citizens. Yes! They celebrated Independence Day and they flew the flag.

    Reply
    • Newell Gay - July 4, 2017 12:47 pm

      Amen lady, feel the same way.

      Reply
  2. Marcia De Graaf - July 4, 2017 12:45 pm

    Amen, Sean. If we watch news about our country only on the media, we see what is wrong. Thank you for reminding us what is right and good about this great country and people. GOD BLESS AMERICA!

    Reply
    • Sharon - July 4, 2017 1:34 pm

      Amen!! We see only the bad on TV! There are positive things out there too and I’m blessed to be Reading Sean’s posts in a country that has a lot wrong with it but Is still a GREAT place to live! If the haters don’t like it, there is no one keeping them here! They are FREE to leave! If they are unhappy with our Country they are more than welcome to do something to improve it instead of griping about Sean’s uplifting posts!

      Reply
  3. Newell Gay - July 4, 2017 12:46 pm

    Man, love your blog. You express my feelings better then I can, I well educate have finished 6 years of college, have a degree but not able to put my thoughts on paper as well as you. Makes me ashame of me but not my Country. My mother, a WWI war bridge from Scotland, drill into her 7 children that we have more freedom and opportunities then the rest of the world.
    Love this country. God Bless America and our military.
    Keep up the good writing.
    Sincerely,
    Newell

    Reply
  4. Elizabeth May - July 4, 2017 12:48 pm

    Way to go, Sean!!!!! God bless America today and everyday!!!!!

    Reply
  5. Cheryl - July 4, 2017 12:51 pm

    Dean Sean,

    Thanks for loving people, the South, and America!
    I appreciate you!

    Reply
  6. Bobbie - July 4, 2017 12:54 pm

    My Vietnam vet and I wish you and your dear Jamie
    the BEST Fourth of July on record!

    Reply
  7. Cathi Russell - July 4, 2017 12:59 pm

    Thank you Sean. You write what I’m feeling and it always gets me a little weepy. Happy Fourth!

    Reply
  8. Judy Harris - July 4, 2017 1:08 pm

    Amen! Sean. There is plenty to moan and groan about, but so much more to celebrate. Thank you for leading us to fresh air and sunlight. That is a much healthier place to be. May God continue to bless these United States of America.

    Reply
  9. Warren Callaway - July 4, 2017 1:14 pm

    well said………………….

    Reply
  10. Nancy - July 4, 2017 1:28 pm

    Just started getting your blog and I love your words. Touches my heart to hear what’s in yours. God bless you Sean!

    Reply
  11. Jan - July 4, 2017 1:35 pm

    Amen! God bless America!

    Reply
  12. Matt - July 4, 2017 1:38 pm

    HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY SEAN.
    GOD Bless America. Thankful for all those that have made this country what it is, not perfect, but isn’t there beauty in imperfection?

    Reply
  13. Laura Young - July 4, 2017 1:41 pm

    Attitude is so much of what determines how we see things. This guy thinks you are part of the problem- I think he is. You look for good and sometimes you see it when you aren’t even looking for it. He sees the bad. It is easy to be negative if you choose to. There certainly is a lot of bad to see (in Sunday School this week there was even a light hearted argument about whether Montgomery or Birmingham was the worst area for murder, assault, etc). I thought about that later and it made me think about how we choose to see things. Like smiles- if you smile, others often will return the smile. What do you do when someone is scowling? I love that you find stories of those who struggle with life’s issues yet find a way out of it. Thank you!!

    Reply
  14. Kathy Lane - July 4, 2017 1:41 pm

    If you look for the negative you will find it- hateful people, liars, thieves, killers and despair everywhere- if you look for hope- you will find it- like you, there are wonderful folks everywhere- helping others, offering love in the face of hate (as was the response in the case of the Charleston 9 here is SC)- there is a lot to fear, hate etc- civility has gone the way of the dodo it seems, but there is always good if you look for it- thankfully, it arrives in my email every morning thanks to your wonderful blog! Keep up the good and joyful work Sean- it does make a difference

    Reply
  15. Al - July 4, 2017 1:46 pm

    You handled that a LOT better than I would have. I’ve rarely seen someone with less self awareness than this guy. Has no idea who or what this nation is or what it’s about, most likely because his guy lost the race.

    Keep writing the unvarnished candy free truth. God bless America, and God bless you Sean.

    Reply
  16. Linda - July 4, 2017 1:48 pm

    Don’t watch the news. Look around at your fellow man and see who you can help.
    Choose happiness. We aren’t here that long….

    Reply
  17. Becky Smith - July 4, 2017 1:50 pm

    Bravo.

    Reply
  18. Rene Hodges - July 4, 2017 2:12 pm

    Hey Sean, I think you have your days and nights mixed up! (see time stamp!) I, like the other responders, love this country, donate when and what I can to those less fortunate and pray that the federal government will start acting on behalf of the people who sent them to Washington. You keep writing. I will keep reading! God bless America!

    Reply
  19. Arlene - July 4, 2017 2:17 pm

    Thank you.

    Reply
  20. Madeline - July 4, 2017 2:19 pm

    Sean,
    Thank you for celebrating life in your words and stories. God Bless America, Land that I Love!

    Reply
    • Susan in Georgia - July 4, 2017 3:34 pm

      Thanks, Madeline, you’ve expressed my sentiment exactly!

      Reply
  21. Michael Bishop - July 4, 2017 2:20 pm

    I always enjoy and resonate with your anecdotal answers to the questions of skeptics and defeatists. However, I am left wondering, day after day, how good people, ordinary Americans as you correctly term them, folks who would give you the shirts off their backs, money for food, and help when you’re ailing, just as Jesus urges us to do, step into a voting booth and pull the lever, or push the button, for politicians who tell us that they’re going to take your shirt, up the price of your food, repeal your medical insurance, and give the savings to people who don’t really need them and don’t seem to give two hoots that you probably do.

    I guess we’d go crazy if that’s all we ever thought about, but it’s sort of happening now, and I say that as a patriot, a military veteran, who wishes it were otherwise. Forgive me for spoiling the Fourth for you, if I have. I am still looking forward to ours, for we intend to spend it with family and friends eating barbecue and Brunswick stew from the churches in the late Lewis Grizzard’s hometown of Moreland, Georgia. The money goes for good causes, and we try to support them every Fourth.

    Reply
    • gary jensen - July 4, 2017 3:10 pm

      I’m with Mr. Bishop on this one… wondering how to square the beauty of humanity’s stories (folks doing their darnedest, day-to-day ) with the ugly ignorance and prejudice seeping out of our cultural pores these days… I’m not sure ignoring the news is the right response, though I understand the Focus principle and realize that life is short and it’s good to feed the positive. Difficult times for we humans… not the first difficult times for sure, or even the most difficult, but ours… in our laps, on our plates, while we BBQ.

      Reply
      • Kathy Rondon - July 4, 2017 3:36 pm

        I agree with Mr. Bishop and Mr. Jensen. I love the stories about the South and the good people in it who work hard and find beauty in a sometimes ugly world. I’m blood related to many of them. But ignoring that ugliness because it is hard to deal with and unpleasant to contemplate is not a good response. We have to watch the news. We have to get angry when we see injustice. To do otherwise is the opposite of patriotism, because standing up to injustice even when it’s hard is what this country was founded on. I like Sean’s righeteous anger when a little girl is called fat and women are treated as if their worth was tied up in their measurements. We should be aware of and confront ugliness like this–in all its forms and whoever its mouthpiece. THAT’s what it means to be patriotic.

        Reply
  22. Connie - July 4, 2017 2:30 pm

    Thank you for celebrating all of us with your words. You don’t have an agenda, you’re not pushy or mean. You dole out humor and compassion like little spoons of medicine that makes people feel better.

    Reply
    • Jake - July 4, 2017 2:40 pm

      Connie summed it up perfectly. I can be feeling cynical and read your column and begin to feel better. That’s worth a lot.

      Reply
  23. Larry Blumen - July 4, 2017 2:37 pm

    I also feel that the country has problems, but probably for reasons opposite to those of Unpatriotic. But I liked your response.

    Reply
  24. W. L. Price - July 4, 2017 2:41 pm

    Your best yet. It’s what makes America. It’s what has Always made America. And it’s who the fireworks are for. I hope yours are good, Bro.

    Reply
  25. Catherine - July 4, 2017 2:42 pm

    Celebrating the 4th with people who’ve struggled and some who are still. Thankful for your writings clearing up the fog some see thru. Thankful God put me where He did.

    Reply
  26. Elizabeth Pickens - July 4, 2017 3:09 pm

    I was once told that it is difficult to be thankful and depressed at the same time, and that the practice of purposefully thinking of three things one is thankful for each day does wonders for one’s attitude. We tried this as a family at the dinner table for a while when my boys were young. At first it was awkward (my husband’s first comment: “I’m thankful I only have two more things to come up with”). But a few days in, the transformation of our dinner discussions were amazing. It is the old-fashioned idea of looking on the “sunny side” that serves us all well for approaching life with positive energy rather than the oppressive negative energy that seems to have overtaken so many in our country. Whatever one’s political leanings might be, the intensity of the negativity spewed by people such as the person who wrote you the letter of despair does absolutely NOTHING to correct the problems so many face. Your examples of all those who, despite suffering true loss, and seemingly insurmountable setbacks, taking the active and positive approach to pull themselves up and just keep going show how we should all try to approach our daily lives. What is to be gained by not being patriotic on the Fourth? How does that make the letter writer’s life better? How does that support and pull up those around him? It doesn’t! So, as for me–I’ll be waving my flag, watching fireworks, and working hard to be thankful for all the positive things I enjoy by living in the U.S.

    Reply
    • Cyndia - July 4, 2017 8:17 pm

      I’m with Mr. Bishop and Ms. Pickens here. It’s easy to forget that this country IS We the People, and so many of us are trying to get from day to day, making the best of the circumstances we are in. So many in my own life; my husband with cancer, and we find the humor in the absurdity of it all. Our friend with a spinal cord injury, and his wife and son are his caregivers. Another friend with a massive infection from hip surgery. Yet every one of them (us) are finding the joy in some little way every day. That is what makes this country great. We survive.

      Reply
      • Madeline - July 5, 2017 8:10 pm

        Well said Cyndia!

        Reply
    • Kathryn - July 5, 2017 8:01 pm

      Amen Elizabeth!

      Reply
  27. Clint - July 4, 2017 3:29 pm

    That guy must not live in the South.

    Reply
  28. Nedra Tucker - July 4, 2017 3:34 pm

    I am a flag waver and I always see hope in the people I run across daily. My patriotism comes from my Daddy. He joined Navy, trained as a pilot at Whiting Field, flew during WWII, Korea, and was one of the selfless volunteers for the Berlin Airlift. My Daddy was not a wealthy man, and was raised in Thorsby, Alabama. He was acheiver. That being said he taught us that there would always be naysayers about our country, but the naysayers will never understand the pride until you see the faces of the people you have freed from the tyranny of other countries that we in USA has assisted. I never want to live in one of those countries and be one of those faces. Yes, we have problems and YES I will wave my flag. Daddy I miss you today. We alway celebrated this Day, the Fourth and praised God everyday for being born free! That is worth celebrating!

    Reply
  29. Donna Holifield - July 4, 2017 3:44 pm

    Soooo very moving!
    Thank you Sean!
    Tell it like it is!

    Reply
  30. Wendy - July 4, 2017 3:52 pm

    Happy Independence Day, Sean & Jamie! It’s a wonderful tribute for the best country on earth.
    I chose not to “rain on your parade” for Sunday’s reading about your Jamie, but just took a little issue with the last paragraph. July 2nd IS someone’s birthday. His name is Don. We met on a blind date even though I considered myself to be too mature for such risks. That was the best decision! We had $200, thanks to my dad & Don’s grandfather.
    Thank you again for your beautiful writings!

    Reply
  31. Susan in Georgia - July 4, 2017 3:54 pm

    GOD BLESS AMERICA, land that I love. And, Sean: God bless you for sharing stories about the genuine folks you meet along your daily path in this land. There’s an overload of cynicism all around elsewhere, but you bring a refreshing breeze to us through your writing. Thank you soooo much.

    Reply
  32. Jim Shaver - July 4, 2017 4:31 pm

    Great response Sean!

    I wonder what problems in America are so big for this Not so Patriotic This Year person that he can’t enjoy a hot dog, a baseball game, a bowl of homemade ice cream or a swim in the creek with his favorite dog?

    My goodness! It seems like to me he’s just a glass half empty perpetual pessimist.

    Reply
  33. Marty from Alabama - July 4, 2017 5:01 pm

    I love candy. Please keep dishing it out. Our country can use all the sweet stuff we can get.

    Reply
  34. Toni from Alabama - July 4, 2017 5:34 pm

    I’m with you Sean! God Bless America!

    Reply
  35. Jenny Young - July 4, 2017 5:55 pm

    The difference between being patriotic & unpatriotic is the same as being thankful & ungrateful. There have always been bad things, really bad people, laws, ect in our country but when we choose to focus on the bad & moan about it instead of choosing to see the good & add to it…we’ll never be thankful, we’ll never be patriotic & we’ll never be happy.

    We can be unhappy & even a little unpatriotic at times in our frustrations over bad things but it’s never wrong to express gratitude & it’s never wrong to celebrate patriotism….too many people sacrifice every day so that we can be free to do that.

    It’s easy to criticize when you aren’t willing to dig in & make things better yourself. I appreciate the fact that Sean chooses to try to encourage in spite of the hard things & probably even when he feels overwhelmed by hard things.

    Reply
  36. Sandra Lee Van Dam - July 4, 2017 6:09 pm

    YEAH! God bless you, Sean.

    Reply
  37. Esteban Rudman - July 4, 2017 6:17 pm

    Exactly!!! There is no alternative. As long as the people who run the show keep doing what they’re doing, we will keep getting what we got. From them. Which while it smells about the same, is worth less than bovine excrement. As people in flyover country know, THAT has value as fertilizer. Happiness and sanity come from us, not them. We must take care of our own families, communities, and friends. And turn off the news. Sean tell your stories. Keep it up and happy 4th.

    Reply
  38. Sam Hunneman - July 4, 2017 7:47 pm

    Content of character, man. Good stuff.

    Reply
  39. Steve Welch - July 4, 2017 8:06 pm

    Thank you. On this July 4, I am glad your grandaddy hooked up with your grandmother and started what ended up being eventually you. I hope tonight you are somwhere with people who call family, enjoying a cold beer and relaxing from all the hard work you do everyday to inspire people like me. You deserve nothing less.

    Reply
  40. Nancy Payne - July 4, 2017 8:21 pm

    Thank you for your poignant touches with humanity…my golfing buddy lost her husband about a month ago, but she took time to send you to me….don’t stop writing…I won’t either…

    Reply
  41. Jeannie - July 4, 2017 8:43 pm

    Your writings are so important to me. You get me in the right frame of mind to start my day. I am reminded each and every day that this nation is made up of all different kinds of people, some who have just had hard bad luck and some who have made their own problems. But they are people and though I might not want to be around a murderous gang member, he is a child of God and who knows what brought him to that point. We, the good, the bad, the intellectual, the ones with mental disabilities, the rich and the poor are all AMERICANS and I am so proud to live in this country. Is it perfect? No. Are all politicians out for their own agenda? Not all, but certainly the loudest ones Has it been that way since the Declaration of Independence was signed? yes. What makes our country great is that we are givers and for the majority are empathetic. I saw billboards all over London last year advertising for its citizens to volunteer-not for anything specific -just give of your time to something, anything. Our country has no loss of volunteers and good deed doers. Wow this was long!

    Reply
  42. Jack Quanstrum - July 4, 2017 8:46 pm

    Me to Sean. Proud as hell to be an American. Thank you for the excellent patriotic story. It makes my blood boil cutting down our country and you. But I forgive him because he don’t know any better. As you say Sean when the fireworks go off tonight I will be thankful for him to. He was created in God’s image and that’s why our country is so great. It takes all kinds. Peace be with you!

    Reply
  43. Petey Kaletta - July 5, 2017 12:22 am

    This is so beautiful. Will share this post for all those who are not appreciative of what this country is all about.

    Reply
  44. Petey Kaletta - July 5, 2017 12:23 am

    This is really beautiful. Will share for all those who are not appreciative of what America is all about.

    Reply
  45. Michael Hawke - July 5, 2017 2:13 am

    Thank you. May God bless.

    Reply
  46. Candy Clark - July 5, 2017 3:27 am

    How many times can I tell you “God Bless You”?!! Love love love how you write about the average, proud American! All the struggles, all the Blessings! It’s what makes life SO GREAT and such an adventure!! I AM PROUD AS HELL TO BE AN AMERICAN!

    Reply
  47. Carolyn - July 5, 2017 12:28 pm

    Well said! My Uncle was in the First Unit of Darby’s Raiders, trained in Scotland. He and his brother were in German prisoner of war camps and survived. They passed away at the age of 88 and 89. They came home worked hard and felt they were owed nothing. Two poor boys from Arkansas, they married raised a family, one became an alcoholic and beat that in later years. He spent the rest of his life helping other trying to do the same. My father and brother served in the military to protect this country that we live in.

    Reply
  48. Patricia Gibson - July 5, 2017 4:23 pm

    Amen

    Reply
  49. Karen - July 5, 2017 7:38 pm

    This guy has a terrible attitude. He needs to get a life.
    I am proud to be an American. This country is hurting yes in many ways, but
    we are still the greatest country in the world. If he doesn’t like it here,
    Bro needs to find a place to go. Attitude has a lot to do with happiness. Bad
    attitude creates negative, positive attitude creates happiness. Keep up the good work
    and writing. You can’t please everybody….

    Reply
  50. Mary Anne - July 5, 2017 11:15 pm

    Proud to be an American. I’m so blessed. I have a wonderful family (which includes two outstanding grandchildren), a good husband, a precious daughter and fine son in law, a good job and nice home. I live in the United States of America! What do I have to complain about? Politicians are full of themselves, always have been and always will be. Haters are gonna hate. Skeptics are unpatriotic. Meanwhile, I’m blessed to be able to read your good writing. Every. Day. Please keep it up. God Bless You and God Bless the USA!

    Reply
  51. Nancy - July 6, 2017 1:41 am

    this man should get on his knees every day and thank God he lives in the greatest country in the world . There are a lot of things that need
    changing , but it is still the greatest place to live.

    Reply
  52. Tish - July 6, 2017 11:54 am

    So wonderful – excellent as always – thanks for writing and sharing

    Reply
  53. Martha - July 9, 2017 5:07 am

    May God bless you, Sean, your family, and America!!!

    Reply
  54. Elizabeth - July 19, 2017 3:53 pm

    Fantastic! No wonder the Eagle is our national bird—thanks to Benjamin Franklin!

    Reply

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