Charlie Daniels Jr., the son of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” country legend Charlie Daniels, has taken over the “Soapbox” section on his later father’s official website to share a touching tale about the staff at Summit Medical Center in Hermitage, Tenn., where the elder Daniels died on July 6 after suffering a hemorrhagic stroke. In his heartfelt post, the Grand Ole Opry member’s son explained that he “wanted to pick up the story at the hospital after dad took his last breath.” He emotionally described the scene as an “overwhelming display of love, honor and respect” that made him “extremely proud to be his son."
“Some of the hospital staff and the hospital chaplain talked to us about doing a Patriots Honor Walk for dad when they were ready to take him to the hearse and then to the funeral home,” the younger Daniels wrote. “The Patriots Honor Walk is military-themed, and it is the civilian equivalent to the military Honor Walk as the hospital staff lines the hallways as the recently deceased is taken out of the doors.”
The singer’s son explained that he made it clear to the hospital staff that — while the elder Daniels “loved our military” — he had never served, due to his poor eyesight. In fact, a few years ago, some “online trolls” had accused the famously patriotic country star of being a “draft dodger.” But the passionate hospital staff wanted to proceed with the tribute. “I wanted to let the staff know that information, and they said the Patriots Honor Walk is similar, but for people who were passionate supporters of our country, and our military. One of the nurses on staff who served in the Navy brought an American flag and she draped it over my dad’s body, and the hospital chaplain handed out cards with a beautiful prayer he had written for us,” the younger Daniels wrote.
The hospital staff’s tribute didn’t just entail a walk, however. “This is going to be difficult for me to put into words, and I’m already tearing up as I write it,” Daniels Jr. continued, revealing that while hospital staffers were planning the Patriots Walk, members of the Mt. Juliet Police Department and the Wilson County Sheriff’s Department were also organizing a procession from the hospital to the funeral home in nearby Mt. Juliet. After his Daniels Sr.’s body left the hospital, local law enforcement and two dozen Patriot Guard Riders took part in a motorcade to the funeral home, with fans lining the streets to pay their respects.
"With just 45 minutes’ notice, people stepped out of their places of work, left their homes and in the middle of a pandemic, lined the streets of Mt. Juliet to pay their respects to my father,” wrote Daniels Jr., confessing that he quickly realized that he’d made a “huge mistake” by driving his own car in the motorcade, as he started to weep over “the outpouring of love the American flags waving, the people holding signs saying, ‘We Love You, Charlie!’ … I should’ve had someone else drive me.”
Daniels Jr.’s post was titled “The Best There’s Ever Been, Part 2,” following a part 1 that he wrote the day after his father’s July 10 funeral, which was live-streamed and featured performances by Travis Tritt, Vince Gill, Gretchen Wilson, and Trace Adkins. The younger Daniels concluded by saying, “I think I’ve got at least one other soapbox in me about the events of last week, and possibly more. Nobody wants to hear my opinion like they did dad’s, but I may try to find a few topics to at least get a few more Charlie Daniels’s soapboxes out there for the world, even if it’s from the newer model.”
The elder Daniels regularly blogged about his social and political views on the Charlie Daniels Band’s website. The 83-year-old Southern rocker’s final Soapbox post, “My Beautiful America,” ran three days before his death (and the day before the Fourth of July), when he wrote: “This year, as we celebrate the 244th birthday of the greatest nation the world has ever known, we are beset with many problems, some of our making and some we have no control over. But, be that as it is, America is still the greatest and I want to express my personal feelings about our beloved country, its magnificence, its beauty and its diverse population.”
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