Reflections On Turning 76

Charlie Daniels
By Charlie Daniels | October 28, 2012 | 10:49 AM EDT

There is no particular reason for the world to remember October 28, 1936 unless you happen to be one of a handful of history buffs who know that the Statue of Liberty celebrated her 50th year in the harbor in New York on that day.

The climate of the times was pretty laid back, the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn, the Empire State Building was still the tallest in building in the world and two-year-old Elvis Aaron Presley was toddling around a little four room shotgun house in Tupelo, Mississippi.

But, by far, the most inauspicious event to take place on October 28, 1936 happened at James Walker Memorial Hospital on Red Cross Street in Wilmington, North Carolina when 18-year-old LaRue Daniels and 19-year-old Carlton Daniels had their first and only son, who they named Charles Edward. A little girl named Lenora who lived across the road was my constant playmate.

I remember the Second World War, the patriotism, the sacrifice and the very real threat to those of us who lived on the coast where German U-Boats lay in wait and sunk tankers of fuel that sailed out of the Port of Wilmington bound for our troops in Europe.

Some family's mode of transportation was a mule and wagon and it was fairly commonplace to see a couple of them in a churchyard on a Sunday morning or driving into a small southern town on a Saturday afternoon.

I didn't know anybody who didn't believe in God, and our schoolteachers ruled their domains with paddles, and staying after school to do penance for some infraction of the rules was commonplace and effective.

Bullies were around, but very selective about whom they picked on, since their targets were apt to have a big brother who would come around and clean your clock. Being an only child, I had to fend for myself and found out early on that - win, lose or draw - you had to stand up for yourself.

I remember the wonder and excitement the Christmas season brought (when it finally arrived) and the unadulterated joy of catching my first fish and shooting my first squirrel and how I fell head over heels in love with a little girl named Judy in the first grade and how uncomfortable it was to start wearing shoes again after a summer of going bare footed.

I remember my first experience with losing a loved one when my four-year-old cousin Marshall passed away, suddenly leaving me bereaved and bewildered at the finality of death.

The world I was born into has changed exponentially over the last 76 years. It’s smaller and faster and much more complicated and harder to understand. It seems less honest and less respectful - and words that were once considered gutter talk have crept into our vocabularies and lexicon, and perception has become more important than reality.

I sometimes get the feeling that the world is leaving me behind and I don't really care.

I'm pretty happy where I am.

Thank you, God, for granting me 76 wonderful years, a loving family and work that I can put my heart into.

What do you think?

Pray for our troops, and for our country.

God Bless America

Charlie Daniels

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