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.