A couple of years ago, my family and I attended that most Southern of cultural events – a 'fiddlers' convention' in the community of Frankville, Alabama. Frankville is only a 45-minute drive from our home in rural Wayne County, Mississippi. This was the third time we had gone to the 'convention' and we have always enjoyed ourselves at this event. It has been held annually since 1926, and takes place in the old school building. Prizes are awarded for best mandolin picker, best banjo picker, best guitar picker, best band, and of course, the most prestigious, best fiddler.
We arrived at the venue around 5:30 to listen to a local bluegrass gospel band play a set, which lasted until 6:30. The barbecued chicken we purchased was reasonably priced and, though not the best I have eaten, was pretty tasty.
Following the bluegrass set, the master of ceremonies took the stage. After the usual welcoming remarks, he launched into praise for President Trump. He was particularly grateful that Mr. Trump had authorized lobbing a few bombs into the sovereign nation of Syria just a few days before. Full disclosure: I admit to having voted for Donald Trump in November of 2016. The two primary reasons were (1) To defeat his Democratic opponent, and (2) I was hopeful he would, at the very least, scale back America's useless, unconstitutional foreign military adventures of the last 100 years or so. The MC didn't give the reason for the Syria attack, he was just proud of Mr. Trump for having done so.
After the typical platitudes about being 'proud to be an American,' the MC moved a large American flag to the center of the stage. I knew what was coming next. He spoke of what a great country we are all blessed to live in, and he implored everyone to join him in pledging allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. My wife and I, and five of my seven children were standing about five rows from the front of the auditorium, so the MC could clearly see we were not joining him and the 100 or so others in the building in the pledge. The look of astonishment and contempt on his face, upon seeing we hadn't joined him and the others in the 'patriotic' recitation was plain to see. I fully expected to be accosted and rebuked by him before I left the building for not participating in the pledge, but he spoke not a word to me. Had he chosen to do so, I was prepared to respond in this way:
America is a wonderful country, in spite of the wickedness of those who rule over us. However, I will not pledge allegiance to a flag if it represents a government which takes money from me by force to help fund Planned Parenthood; which takes money from me by force to wage endless wars in lands 7,000 miles from America's shores; which takes money from me by force to pay those who refuse to work; which takes money from me by force to fund the FDR gem, Social Security, whether I want to participate or not. Furthermore, am I going to resist the men (and God forbid, women) who might show up on my property some day to confiscate the firearms my sons and I use to kill deer and turkeys, and which we use to defend our home and property against intruders? Perhaps I wouldn't if I have pledged allegiance to the flag stitched on the shirt sleeves of the government agents. Last, but certainly not least, because I am an unreconstructed Southerner, I won't pledge allegiance to the flag adored by those Lincoln-worshipping conservatives and liberals of both the Fox News and CNN variety. Thus far, in the first 60 years of my life, I have avoided the Stockholm Syndrome.
Anthony Powell is an unreconstructed Southerner, a married, home-schooling father of seven, four of whom are still at home. He and his wife own a screen-printing business. He is a life-long resident of rural Wayne County, Mississippi, who has lived on the same 20 acres his entire life. In his spare time, he hunts, fishes, enjoys Scrabble with his children, and plays bluegrass music.