I’m with two girls. My wife is riding shotgun. My coonhound is between us. One girl smells like lavender shampoo. The other smells like blue cheese.
The stereo is blaring something political. Two radio personalities discuss individualistic views on America.
“I’m CONCERNED about America, Ron.”
“Me too, Jerry. I’m SO CONCERNED, I wish I WEREN’T an American.”
“That’s a concern of mine, too, Ron.”
“Isn’t it all so concerning?”
“It is as far as I’m concerned.”
My wife changes the station to something with more pedal steel guitar.
She lands on a Ford Motor advertisement. This makes me grin because the men in my family have supported Henry Ford since the earth cooled.
My father was a boot-wearing Union man. I spent entire childhoods in Ford half-tons with patriotic stickers on bumpers. Folks from our walk of life plastered flags on anything that wasn’t alive. Barn walls, beer coolers, job-sites.
Once, I accompanied my father to a construction-site. A tower crane stood above an iron-frame structure the size of a city block. There, I met men with sooty faces, welding helmets, and battle-ship tattoos.
They were carrying a crate the size of a casket.
“What’s in the box?” I asked Daddy.
He didn’t answer.
Inside the container were red and white stripes the width of sidewalks. The men attached the colors to a wire dangling from the crane. Then, someone fired the engine—a noise louder than most NASCAR fleets.
And when the banner lifted upward, several hundred roughnecks stepped backward to get a better view of Old Glory.
Air hammers quit. Front-end loaders shut down. Gas torches stopped. Men removed helmets. Some placed hands over hearts, others saluted.
A gust of wind caught the flag. Colors flung outward, covering the sun. It was poetry.
Men applauded. Several hundred Ford-lovers hollered loud enough to wake the Unknown Soldier.
My father kept his palm over his chest.
Yeah, I know. You won’t see that sort of thing on the evening news. I’m no fool. I know people are fussing about politics. Folks have been disagreeing like this since the fellas in gray fought the boys in blue.
In fact, somebody will probably get upset with what I’ve just written. And they have every right to—I’m just a Budweiser-drinker driving a Ford.
Even so, I believe in good. And I won’t apologize for it. There is too much magic buried within the dirt of my ancestors to give up.
This is the soil my granddaddy plowed with a mule, the river of my father’s baptism, the mountain where he lays.
One day, when my Ford-driving years are over, they’ll bury me in this red clay. And no matter what kinds of things people say about me, no matter how light my wallet is, or how my obituary reads…
I’m glad I got to be an American.
God bless us all.