I was born in 1936 and remember the day the Japanese Imperial Forces attacked the United States military facility in Pearl Harbor, and my formative years were spent during the Second World War.
My hometown of Wilmington, North Carolina played an important part in the war effort. It was situated near the mouth of the Cape Fear River, and in addition to being a strategic port for shipping war materials across the Atlantic, there was also a shipyard that built Liberty Ships.
American ships leaving the port of Wilmington were attacked and sunk by German U-Boats just off our shores, so close it was said, you could see the fires of battle from our beaches.
So the war was very real to us. The enemy was close, and we had air raid drills and blackouts in the anticipation of the day when the Germans were able to bring the war ashore.
I learned very early in my life that only two things protected America, the grace of Almighty God and the United States Military.
It was that way then, it is that way now and will forever be that way as long as America remains a free and sovereign nation.
There were some dark days, but even at times when the war was going badly and the casualty lists were high, we listened to President Roosevelt and said our prayers in the absolute conviction that no Swastika or Rising Sun would ever fly above our beloved United States of America.
Patriotism was a natural emotion. We wore our feelings for our nation on our sleeves, and we said the word America with something akin to reverence.
America the beautiful, America the bountiful, land of the free, home of the brave, the American dream, the American way, American pride, American patriotism -- catch words, phrases, colloquialisms, a whole unique lexicon describing how we feel about the nation that spans a continent that borders two oceans, a nation that has traditionally led the planet in science, technology, industry and innovation. It was founded on the proposition that all men are created equal, born free with the right to the pursuit of happiness and the liberty to follow their dreams as far as their initiative, determination and sweat would take them.
It's a wonderful way to think about this land that has brought prosperity and freedom to so many, has fought for the cause of liberty around the world, has dethroned despots, banished dictators, ripped apart an iron curtain and freed a whole continent from fascism.
Nice thoughts, true thoughts, but current thoughts?
Folks, let me ask you a question: What in the hell has happened to our country?
Any conversation about what is wrong in America usually starts and ends with scathing criticism of the men and women we send to the National and State Capitols to represent us and handle the business of running our nation. And while it's true that a wide river of guilt as deep as a horse's bridle flows out of Washington, DC and the various and sundry centers of political power around this nation, can we take a deep breath, pause and consider a much overlooked but pertinent fact?
A nation's greatness is not reckoned by the caliber of its politicians, but conversely the greatness of its politicians is reckoned by the caliber of its people. Politicians are a reflection of the people who put them in office, the end product of our needs, our desires, our greed, our selfishness, our ever-increasing permissive attitude toward society, our willingness to tolerate issues and policies we know are detrimental to the nation as long as it doesn't effect us directly.
A recent poll discovered that 44 percent of the population in this country no longer take pride in being Americans. 44 percent of the people living in the nation with more opportunity, more security, the land of overnight millionaires, the place where even the biggest dreams can come true, have decided that America is not still the greatest nation the world has ever known, but a place to be ashamed of, guilty of nation building, fighting ignoble wars and suppressing minorities.
What has led us to this sorry state of affairs?
How can people who have been blessed just to be born and have citizenship in this nation possibly not feel pride in the fact?
Where has a country that once instilled such feelings of intense pride and devoted patriotism have gone so wrong?
Some of the answers are easy: revisionist history, the notion that the world owes you a living, and "You didn't build that, you had help,” the idea that there must exist a monolithic central government that gives hand outs from cradle to grave so you don't have to be responsible for your own actions and wellbeing, our constant and foolish move away from the Creator who blessed this nation and enabled it to achieve its lofty position in the world.
These and other factors combine to present a perverse view of this United States of America, to blind us to the greatness of this country.
This nation does and will only exist by the belief and devotion of its people, many of whom seem to have lost sight of what America really is.
I submit to you that they need to take another look, not at the politicians and the propaganda machines many of our media have become, but a long hard look at the greatness and beauty of a nation that has existed and prospered for over two centuries, a nation of human beings from diverse backgrounds and heritages, a nation that has it all, a nation unlike any other.
What do you think?
Pray for our military, our police and the peace of Jerusalem.
God Bless America
Charlie Daniels is a legendary American singer, song writer, guitarist, and fiddler famous for his contributions to country and southern rock music. Daniels has been active as a singer since the early 1950s. He was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry on January 24, 2008.