I’m in an interstate truckstop drinking lukewarm coffee that tastes like bathwater. There are antlers on the wall near the Coke machine. My eggs are overdone, my bacon tastes like rubber, my vinyl seat has a tear in it.
This is heaven.
I’m watching television. On the screen: a gentleman in a suit complains about America.
“Sometimes, I hate America,” the talking head says. “I don’t even like our flag…”
The waitress slaps off the television.
A man at the counter shakes his head and cusses at the TV. I know what he’s thinking because I’m thinking the same thing.
This talk-show host has the IQ of coleslaw.
Furthermore, I don’t hate my homeland. I love everything from Spanish moss to the Roy Rogers. From swamps to double-wide trailers, to homemade moonshine.
Consequently, once in north Florida, someone gave me a jar of strawberry moonshine. The next morning, I awoke in south Alabama with a toothache.
I also like bass ponds, railroads, hog farms, vegetable stands, and flatbed Fords—I’ve owned six.
I like Bob Feller, Hank Aaron, and Ken Griffey Jr. I like pigskin footballs, and coaches who make boys into men. I prefer cheap beer, and though I don’t smoke, I love the smell of Virginian tobacco in grandaddy’s corncob pipe.
And if that’s not patriotic enough, I love Hank, Merle, George, and Willie. I like Will Rogers, Bugs Bunny, Hee Haw, and Louis Armstrong. And whenever I hear a preacher deliver a Baptist-style message, I’m liable to stand and holler.
I’m not finished.
I love Savannah, Charleston, Milton, Jay, Pollard, Defuniak Springs, Valdosta, Grand Ridge, Palatka, Keithville, Greenwood, Lake City, Eastpoint, Wewahitchka, Brewton, Tuscaloosa, Dixonville, and Andalusia.
I like Martin guitars, Stetson hats, Buck knives, Winchester 1873’s, and anyone who says, “y’all.”
And when I hear the National Anthem, I don’t give a damn which NFL football players throw tantrums about it. This is my home, I’m standing. Not just for my flag. For my grandaddy, who wore a purple heart, and still does—six feet beneath the soil.
I stand for those whose friends got butchered. For cotton-pickers, peanut farmers, and steel workers who believed in fifty-six signatures on a piece of parchment. For Mexican-Americans, blacks, whites, homosexuals, and anyone who can fog up a mirror. For those who love an idea so big and pure, they sing about it before ball games.
I’m not going to lie, I don’t care for politics. I care even less for politicians who wouldn’t know their own ass from a phonebook. But I love this truckstop, the antlers on the wall, the jukebox in the corner.
And, by God, I love Old Glory.
James Hunter - September 4, 2016 1:11 pm
Amen brother, nuff said..
Sybil Smith - September 4, 2016 1:53 pm
And I love the way you express yourself…thanks for including Andalusia in your loves. Keep up your articles. You make the day for so many of us oldies, 87. And other ages.
Alice Cooper - September 4, 2016 2:10 pm
What do you really think the IQ of cole slaw is? Thanks for including Palatka on your list. So happy you ate at Miss Leslie’s table so that Miss Jane would share your story and then I would sign on the dotted line to read it.
Alice Cooper (not the rock star)
John Miller - September 4, 2016 6:44 pm
I love the same things! And I love reading everything your write!
Richard Wambsganss - January 31, 2017 10:01 pm
You write like Rick Bragg, sorta, kinda. Keep going.
Sandra Hamm - February 1, 2017 1:48 am
I’m from NW Florida and I agree with you! Love it all!
Cindy - February 1, 2017 3:53 pm
I just found your blog and wanted to say Thank You. I planned to only read one entry but 45 minutes later, I’m still here. So from my heart…thank you for touching my heart.
Beverly - February 1, 2017 7:43 pm
Love, love your writing! Thanks for mentioning DeFuniak Sprimgs…I’m here right now. Grew up here. Your words bring feelings I knew here before I went away to college…..now I’m back and glad …and love America. Thanks!
Pat Byers - February 2, 2017 2:07 am
I just read your piece on women and being raised by women. It came by way of a friend of mine, and she said “this man is my daily dose of sanity”. And now you will be mine. THANK you for honest talk.
Pat Byers - February 2, 2017 2:08 am
A friend showed me your words on women. Being raised by women. She said “you are her daily dose of sanity.” Now you are mine.
Becky Treadway - March 3, 2017 5:28 pm
I love your writing. Rick Bragg was my favorite writer for yrs—-until I found you! Have introduced you to many of my friends and family. They love you, too. Keep your spirit—I love it.
Kenny R - March 11, 2019 2:51 am
There are times when I definitely feel I’m not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer. I read this and I listened to the PodCast when you read this. I was so intrigued by it all that I had to read it twice and listen to it thrice. So wonderful to hear it. I agree with it wholeheartedly. I quickly searched online to find out who wrote it thinking that you were reading a quote. Lo and behold, this was written by you. I should have known. It was perfectly said. It was perfectly shared at a time when many of us need to hear it.
Kenny R (in Los Angeles, CA)