And this I believe…
We take a lot of flack about being from the South so I’d like to point out a few things that seem to have been… overlooked.
Wasn’t it Thomas Jefferson who wrote the Declaration of Independence, and wasn’t James Madison the father of our Constitution, and didn’t George Mason write the Bill of Rights- Southerner’s all? And, besides the father of our nation- George Washington, don’t forget about patriots like Patrick Henry, Andrew Jackson, Davey Crocket, Sam Houston, Admiral Farragut and Winfield Scott, as well as Southern gentlemen like Dwight David Eisenhower, Douglas McArthur, Omar Bradley and Tommy Franks. And who were the most highly decorated foot-soldiers in the world wars but Alvin York and Audie Murphy. Did you know that three of the four faces on Mt. Rushmore are sons of the South?
And who were the first to explore our country’s great wilderness from sea to sea but our boys Lewis and Clark. And did you know that one third of the twelve human beings to ever set foot on another celestial body were born down under, as well as the first to break the sound barrier- Chuck Yeager.
Okay, but what about the gentler disciplines you ask. Where do you think Jazz was born? What about the Blues, Soul, Gospel, Blue-Grass, Country music, and Rock and Roll. Even the first grand opera house in America was built way down yonder. Okay, so we didn’t invent disco. That’s all right.
Not only did America’s indigenous music originate in the South but also the artists who have come to define our distinctly “American” sounds. Names like Satchmo Louis Armstrong, B.B. King of the Blues, Aretha Franklin- Queen of Soul, Mahalia Jackson- the mother of Gospel, Bill Monroe- the father of Bluegrass, Hank Williams- the personification of Country, and finally, the King himself- Elvis Presley. And, don’t forget to say thanks to a Southerner- Francis Scott Key next time you sing our National Anthem.
Yeah, and we don’t write so bad down hear neither. William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Robert Penn Warren, Margaret Mitchell, Thomas Wolfe, O.Henry, as well as names like Capote, Dickey, Hurston, Sanders and Grisham, and of course- Mark Twain all Southern to the bone.
And allow me to remind everyone about the best food in the whole damn world, bar none, not debatable. New Orleans will be back don’t worry. And guess who invented the cocktail… not Duluth.
Athletics? Who better to define “athlete” than the likes of Jesse Owens, Wilma Rudolf, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Jackie Joiner-Kersee, Chris Evert, Bo Jackson, Carl Lewis, Bret Favre, Terry Bradshaw, , Lance Armstrong, Jim Thorpe, Babe Zaharias, Mary Lou Retton, Dale Earnhardt, the Babe himself- Babe Ruth, and including simply the greatest… Mohammed Ali. We still believe in heroes don’t we?
Okay, but look, I believe it would be less than honest, and lest we ever forget, it was too many of our Southern forefathers who perpetuated the great sin of human bondage. Yes, an unpardonable sin… and only by a truly Amazing Grace can we ever be forgiven for that, so I should say our spiritual leadership could stand some mention. People like Billy Graham, and, enough said because no one else is in his league.
But wait just a minute. Need I remind those who take such joy in the sins of our forefathers that it was a tall lanky fellow born in the Bluegrass state who enacted the Emancipation Proclamation. And, it was a Southern President who signed the Civil Rights Act into law, and it was people like Dr. Martin Luther King, Ralph Abernathy, Medger Evers, Rosa Parks, Southerners all, who led the fight for equality not only throughout our South but throughout the world.
So I’ll follow this with a song dedicated to those Southern heroes who helped us look within and brought change for the betterment of all mankind, and also to the so-called rednecks, crackers, the fly over people. It’s okay, hold your heads high and know that it was and continues to be our Southland that stands tallest in the glorious history and culture of the greatest nation this planet has known.
We take a lot of flack, yes indeed, and you might think I’d be whistling Dixie about now. The only problem is that Dixie was written by, dare I say- a Yankee? But here is a different tune, a uniting song, a song about the truth, the music and early lyrics composed by one of us… a Southern American and proud to be so.
Take it away Louis Armstrong and Red Nichols…
(Battle Hymn of the Republic)
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.