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the things that unite us…

We wouldn’t even think about trying to compete with a fireworks display, especially on the Fourth of July.  So instead – we will reflect on some words from the 40th President of the United States of America — President Ronald Reagan…

It’s worth remembering that all the celebration of this day is rooted in history. It’s recorded that shortly after the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia celebrations took place throughout the land, and many of the former Colonists — they were just starting to call themselves Americans — set off cannons and marched in fife and drum parades.

What a contrast with the sober scene that had taken place a short time earlier in Independence Hall. Fifty-six men came forward to sign the parchment. It was noted at the time that they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honors. And that was more than rhetoric; each of those men knew the penalty for high treason to the Crown. “We must all hang together,” Benjamin Franklin said, “or, assuredly, we will all hang separately.” And John Hancock, it is said, wrote his signature in large script so King George could see it without his spectacles. They were brave. They stayed brave through all the bloodshed of the coming years. Their courage created a nation built on a universal claim to human dignity, on the proposition that every man, woman, and child had a right to a future of freedom.

For just a moment, let us listen to the words again: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Last night when we rededicated Miss Liberty and relit her torch, we reflected on all the millions who came here in search of the dream of freedom inaugurated in Independence Hall. We reflected, too, on their courage in coming great distances and settling in a foreign land and then passing on to their children and their children’s children the hope symbolized in this statue here just behind us: the hope that is America. It is a hope that someday every people and every nation of the world will know the blessings of liberty.

And it’s the hope of millions all around the world. In the last few years, I’ve spoken at Westminster to the mother of Parliaments; at Versailles, where French kings and world leaders have made war and peace. I’ve been to the Vatican in Rome, the Imperial Palace in Japan, and the ancient city of Beijing. I’ve seen the beaches of Normandy and stood again with those boys of Pointe du Hoc, who long ago scaled the heights, and with, at that time, Lisa Zanatta Henn, who was at Omaha Beach for the father she loved, the father who had once dreamed of seeing again the place where he and so many brave others had landed on D-day. But he had died before he could make that trip, and she made it for him. “And, Dad,” she had said, “I’ll always be proud.”

And I’ve seen the successors to these brave men, the young Americans in uniform all over the world, young Americans like you here tonight who man the mighty U.S.S. Kennedy and the Iowa and other ships of the line. I can assure you, you out there who are listening, that these young are like their fathers and their grandfathers, just as willing, just as brave. And we can be just as proud. But our prayer tonight is that the call for their courage will never come. And that it’s important for us, too, to be brave; not so much the bravery of the battlefield, I mean the bravery of brotherhood.

All through our history, our Presidents and leaders have spoken of national unity and warned us that the real obstacle to moving forward the boundaries of freedom, the only permanent danger to the hope that is America, comes from within. It’s easy enough to dismiss this as a kind of familiar exhortation. Yet the truth is that even two of our greatest Founding Fathers, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, once learned this lesson late in life. They’d worked so closely together in Philadelphia for independence. But once that was gained and a government was formed, something called partisan politics began to get in the way. After a bitter and divisive campaign, Jefferson defeated Adams for the Presidency in 1800. And the night before Jefferson’s inauguration, Adams slipped away to Boston, disappointed, brokenhearted, and bitter.

For years their estrangement lasted. But then when both had retired, Jefferson at 68 to Monticello and Adams at 76 to Quincy, they began through their letters to speak again to each other. Letters that discussed almost every conceivable subject: gardening, horseback riding, even sneezing as a cure for hiccups; but other subjects as well: the loss of loved ones, the mystery of grief and sorrow, the importance of religion, and of course the last thoughts, the final hopes of two old men, two great patriarchs, for the country that they had helped to found and loved so deeply. “It carries me back,” Jefferson wrote about correspondence with his cosigner of the Declaration of Independence, “to the times when, beset with difficulties and dangers, we were fellow laborers in the same cause, struggling for what is most valuable to man, his right to self-government. Laboring always at the same oar, with some wave ever ahead threatening to overwhelm us and yet passing harmless . . . we rowed through the storm with heart and hand . . . .” It was their last gift to us, this lesson in brotherhood, in tolerance for each other, this insight into America’s strength as a nation. And when both died on the same day within hours of each other, that date was July 4th, 50 years exactly after that first gift to us, the Declaration of Independence.

My fellow Americans, it falls to us to keep faith with them and all the great Americans of our past. Believe me, if there’s one impression I carry with me after the privilege of holding for 5\1/2\ years the office held by Adams and Jefferson and Lincoln, it is this: that the things that unite usAmerica’s past of which we’re so proud, our hopes and aspirations for the future of the world and this much-loved country these things far outweigh what little divides us. And so tonight we reaffirm that Jew and gentile, we are one nation under God; that black and white, we are one nation indivisible; that Republican and Democrat, we are all Americans.

Tonight, with heart and hand, through whatever trial and travail, we pledge ourselves to each other and to the cause of human freedom, the cause that has given light to this land and hope to the world.

My fellow Americans, we’re known around the world as a confident and a happy people. Tonight there’s much to celebrate and many blessings to be grateful for. So while it’s good to talk about serious things, it’s just as important and just as American to have some fun. Now, let’s have some fun — let the celebration begin!

Government is the people’s business, and every man, woman and child becomes a shareholder with the first penny of tax paid. With all the profound wording of the Constitution, probably the most meaningful words are the first three, “We, the People.”


#Freedom #Reagan


when the pressure is on…

If you squeeze an orange you will get orange juice. It doesn’t matter who squeezes it, where or when this is done, or what kind of implement is used. If you squeeze an orange, what comes out is orange juice.  The same holds true for each of us. When the pressure is on–regardless of when, where, why, or who is inducing the pressure–all that can come out is what genuinely is inside of us.

We are each responsible for what is inside of us. If we choose to be filled with negativity, envy, and bitterness, that is what we will exude. If we are filled with optimism, happiness, hope, that is what we will exude.  So how do we make sure we are filled with positive things so that when the pressure times come the best us can come out?

Shayne M. Bowen shared the following story in a talk:

There is a story told of an old Cherokee teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight, and it is between two wolves. One is evil: he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

He continued, “The other is good: he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you—and inside every other person too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Feed the positive each day by controlling your thoughts and actions so when life brings the squeeze only good can come out!


~Amy Rees Anderson


Won’t you support this endeavor?

You may have heard the Wake and District Public Safety Pipes and Drums is working in partnership with the Mike Murphy Memorial Foundation holding its inaugural indoor bagpipe and drum band competition and concert on Saturday, 23 July 2016 at Ravenscroft School in Raleigh, North Carolina. This is a first of its kind in the Eastern United States and will attract more than 1,000 guests and participants throughout the community — and 1,000’s more globally live online.

So who is Mike Murphy and why is there a new bagpipe and drum band competition in Raleigh-NC-USA named after him?  Let us tell you a little bit about him (from Martina Murphy, Mike’s mom):

My son, Mike Murphy was born in Virginia on 27 July 1979 playing the drums. His elbows were literally stuck out in the “sticks ready” position. He marched in high school band and was part of a state champion indoor drum line. Then he went to the Citadel and met Sandy Jones who changed his life. Sandy introduced Mike to Scottish Pipe Band music and he never looked back. He taught his fellow cadets how to read drum music and was always looking for a way to develop leadership in the drum corps. He stepped down as drum sergeant to allow an underclassman lead the corps because Mike saw his potential.

In December 2008, Mike was diagnosed with a very aggressive type of lung cancer.  Throughout his fight Mike continued to teach pipe band drumming.  He died of cancer on 11 February  2010 and left a giant hole in the eastern Scottish Pipe Band community.

Mike always looked out for the welfare of other cadets. This special trait of his is one of the reasons he was such an outstanding leader. His love of drumming was a motivating factor which allowed him to put his impressive work ethic to creative use for the projects he participated in during his all-too-brief time on the scene.

Wake and District’s mission is to provide a distinguishing tribute for our fallen comrades and to be in service to the families of public safety employees of the Raleigh region and across North Carolina. We desire to strengthen relations between the protective services and the public while preserving cultural heritage and enriching our community by providing the highest tradition of Bagpipe and Drum music.  In memory of Mike Murphy, Wake and District is organizing this indoor bagpipe and drum competition; to be remembered is to live on. 

Won’t you support this endeavor by taking an ad or greeting in the program book which will be distributed throughout the event? If you are interested in having your organization support the benefit—and we hope you are—please review the order form enclosed.  #WeRemember

Wake and District is a federally registered 501(c)(3) organization and all contributions are tax deductible.
NC nonprofit identification number 0861654 Department of Revenue 501c3 EIN 20-5483320.
Thanks for your consideration.

DOWNLOAD our Ad-Book/Program form HERE.


DOWNLOAD our Ad-Book/Program form HERE.

ad book form2

DOWNLOAD our Ad-Book/Program form HERE.



culture of change…

Jeffrey Gitomer  said “Change is not a four letter word…but often your reaction to it is!”   Change is’s trading the known for the unknown. It’s leaving something behind without knowing if what lies ahead. It’s wondering “Will I like it as much?” “Will it ever be as good as it was?” “What if it’s not?…What then?” And all those thoughts drive feelings of fear and uncertainty. But what if we stopped viewing change as a four letter word?  What if instead our thoughts were, “As much as I loved life before I know it is only going to keep getting better.” “I am so excited for this change! What a great adventure this is going to be.” “It’s so awesome to know the best is yet to come!”  Man what a difference changing a few thoughts in our heads can make.

Our thoughts control our feelings, therefore if we allow ourselves to think of change as a four letter word then it will be just that. However, if we decide change is something exciting and fabulous we will feel completely different about it – we will embrace change and be excited for it because we know with each change which happens it is taking us somewhere better!

Organizations and individuals who resist change
struggle, fall behind, and ultimately fail.

Think of it like a road trip where you are guaranteed each new exit along the highway will take you to a place more beautiful than the last. Each new exit will introduce you to more and more fabulous people will further enrich and bless your life. Each new exit you explore will teach you more than the last one did. Each new exit you visit will give you more experience and wisdom than you ever had before. With every new exit you are guaranteed the opportunity to become a better person. The highway is our life…and CHANGE is nothing more than arriving at the next exit with it’s great big sign which says “it only gets better from here” …  So get out there and enjoy it!

From Amy Rees Anderson — Change is not a four letter word



Raleigh Indoor Pipe Band Competition…

On behalf of the Mike Murphy Memorial community – we are proud to announce our Inaugural Indoor Pipe Band Competition in Raleigh, NC-USA on Saturday, 23 July 2016 starting at 12:00 pm.  The contest will take place indoors at the Ravenscroft School – Fine Arts Theatre (7409 Falls of Neuse Road, Raleigh NC-USA).  This campus is alcohol and tobacco free.  An after-party will take place at The Piper’s Tavern just down the road.

The competition is sanctioned by the Eastern Unites States Pipe Band Association; all events will be held within the rules and regulations of the EUSPBA.  All competing bands must be registered with the EUSPBA or an affiliated organization.  A format change has been approved by the EUSPBA; bands will perform in a “concert formation” on a stage, facing the judges and audience.  Stage size and layout information will be provided so bands can rehearse accordingly.  There will be no opening or closing “massed bands”.

Registration is FREE (form below).
Bands must register by Friday, 01 July 2016.
Travel assistance will not be available for this inaugural event.
Judges include: Sandy Jones and June Hanley for piping,
Jon Quigg for drumming and Andrew Hoinacki for ensemble.

In addition to the EUSPBA required selections for odd days (G3 Medley and G4 M/S/R) bands will also be afforded the opportunity to play their alternate selections.  G5 will only perform a QMM.  You will be requested to submit complete tune lists for announcement and program purposes.  Prize monies will be awarded to the G5 QMM winners, G4 Medley and M/S/R winners and the G3 M/S/R and G3 Medley winners.  The “winning” G4 and G3 bands of the day will be based on composite scores from both selections and will receive keepsake pint glasses.   Composite awards will also be presented for best drum section and best mid-section in each grade.


For more information about this topic, please contact Martina Murphy by calling 703.407.3880 or sending an e-mail to

This event is being held in partnership with Raleigh’s Pipe Band,
the Wake and District Public Safety Pipes and Drums.

To be remembered is to live on.

THANK YOU to the Bands who registered:

Charleston Pipe Band
Jamestown Pipes and Drums
Knoxville Pipes and Drums
Wake and District Pipe Band

North Carolina State University Pipes and Drums
Loch Norman Pipe Band
Charleston Pipe Band
Atlanta Pipe Band
Wake and District Pipe Band

Grandfather Mountain Highlanders Pipe Band
Atlanta Pipe Band
Wake and District Pipe Band

In addition to the two piping, 1 drum and 1 ensemble judge — there will be a mid-section judge providing comments for the bands.

Awards will be presented for best DRUM section in each grade as well as best MID section in each grade.


stand up for what’s right…

From Amy Rees Anderson — I recently have been dealing with a situation where I became aware that someone has been doing things under false pretenses in an attempt to get personal gain. When I brought these activities to light to those in authority to rectify the situation the person in charge seemed resistant to confront it. He agreed that what this other person had done was wrong, but he seemed to care more about avoiding confrontation then acting with Integrity. He decided it would be easier to try and manipulate others into handling the situation for him so he could avoid being seen as the ‘bad guy’ with this other person, even though handling it was his duty… It was disappointing to say the least. It is never fun to have thought you could respect someone and then learn that’s not the case.

Then today I spent several hours in a conversation with this same person as he tried to tell me that I shouldn’t interpret the false statements that had been intentionally made by this other person as “lies”. That was his way of justifying his own lack willingness to do the right thing.  Ironically the very definition of the word “lie” is “an intentionally false statement”….so, yeah….next he tried to talk down to me as if I just wasn’t intelligent enough to grasp his explanations…When I let him know that his justifications weren’t deterring me from standing up for what I knew to be right, he decided to resort to making threats that it would become uncomfortable for other people I cared about if I was to bring the truth to light. I let him know that the people I care about would WANT me to do the right thing – that is WHY I care about them – Because they are people with Integrity! So he could threaten all he wanted but it wouldn’t change what the right thing to do is and it wouldn’t change my willingness to do just that, because right is right, and wrong is wrong, and no matter what else he was trying to call it or how he was trying to justify it, it is what it is.  It is clear that  he doesn’t understand the concept of Integrity. If he did he would understand that a person of integrity doesn’t do situational ethics.

As I shared in a Forbes article I wrote called “Success will come and go, but integrity is forever” (excerpt of article below):

…Integrity means doing the right thing at all times and in all circumstances, whether or not anyone is watching. It takes having the courage to do the right thing, no matter what the consequences will be.Building a reputation of integrity takes years, but it takes only a second to lose, so never allow yourself to ever do anything that would damage your integrity.

It may seem like people can gain power quickly and easily if they are willing to cut corners and act without the constraints of morality. Dishonesty may provide instant gratification in the moment but it will never last. I can think of several examples of people without integrity who are successful and who win without ever getting caught, which creates a false perception of the path to success that one should follow. After all, each person in the examples above could have gained the result they wanted in the moment, but unfortunately, that momentary result comes at an incredibly high price with far reaching consequences.  That person has lost their ability to be trusted as a person of integrity, which is the most valuable quality anyone can have in their life. Profit in dollars or power is temporary, but profit in a network of people who trust you as a person of integrity is forever.

A word of advice to those who are striving for a reputation of integrity: Avoid those who are not trustworthy. Do not do business with them. Do not associate with them. Do not make excuses for them.  Do not allow yourself to get enticed into believing that “while they may be dishonest with others, they would never be dishonest with me.” If someone is dishonest in any aspect of his life you can be guaranteed that he will be dishonest in many aspects of his life. You cannot dismiss even those little acts of dishonesty, such as the person who takes two newspapers from the stand when they paid for only one. After all, if a person cannot be trusted in the simplest matters of honesty then how can they possibly be trusted to uphold lengthy and complex business contracts?

It is important to realize that others pay attention to those you have chosen to associate with, and they will inevitably judge your character by the character of your friends. Why is that?  It is best explained by a quote my father often says when he is reminding me to be careful of the company I am keeping:  “When you lie down with dogs you get fleas.” Inevitably we become more and more like the people we surround ourselves with day to day. If we surround ourselves with people who are dishonest and willing to cut corners to get ahead, then we’ll surely find ourselves following a pattern of first enduring their behavior, then accepting their behavior, and finally adopting their behavior. If you want to build a reputation as a person of integrity then surround yourself with people of integrity.   (end of excerpt of article. Click here to view the entire article)

Thank heavens for those people of integrity in my life who ARE willing to stand up for what’s right and do the right thing and who support me when I do the same. And thank heavens for being able to recognize when someone doesn’t have integrity and being wise enough to remove them from your life…because nobody in their right mind wants those fleas….

Have a great weekend everyone! And NEVER be afraid of doing the RIGHT THING!

~Amy Rees Anderson


are you happy?

“Learn to be satisfied. It is just as easy as being dissatisfied – and much more pleasant.” – Jacob de Jager

We spend too much of our lives being dissatisfied because we found out there was something just a little bit nicer out there, and not nearly enough time being satisfied with what we have. Don’t get us wrong, there is nothing wrong with winning and wanting nicer things – they motivate us to work harder in order to have them, which is a good thing! But we can’t get so caught up in it that we end up dissatisfied and unhappy in the process.

Someone made the comment to our band manager — you’re never satisfied, are you?  His answer: Far from it. From time to time he finds himself  lowering expectations, which can be a bad thing. Our constant – Ken McKeveny – wants perfection from us. We owe him and all the musical leaders of the band >> everything we have within us << put it all out there every note, every measure, every tune, every time.

It’s like the thanksgiving table…When you are satisfied…you stop eating. You race to load up and then that’s it. Then you get tired and need to take a rest. Let’s not race to get satisfied, grow weary and stop giving thanks for what we have been given in the first place. Let’s keep wanting more for ourselves so we have a constant and steady growth – remembering why we are feeding ourselves in the first place. Because we are thankful and need to reach for more in order to move on.

None of what we do is easy. Being away from our families, dragging our families with us, the waiting around, the tuning (which is getting easier and faster), the rain, the cracked bagpipes, the cleaning the drums off…and on and on and on. We are grateful and proud of the work of our members (individually and collectively) leading up to and throughout the day in Maryville.

J. Harold Smith stated it best when he said:  “Be dissatisfied enough to improve, but satisfied enough to be happy.”

Are you happy?


graciousness is armor and weapon…

Southern Hospitality…it’s complicated. Yes, we welcome you. We welcome you to come sit at our supper tables, stay awhile at our bed and breakfasts, and sleep late in our famous hotels. And we’ll give you a smile as big as you’ve ever seen. But abide by our manners, please. And don’t leave early, please. We might be a little offended if you do. Thank you for your kindness. Now, flip the page, and enjoy our look at Southern hospitality in North Carolina. Do it. Please.

A single fact renders pointless all debate about whether to live north or south of the Mason-Dixon Line. You can talk about college basketball or NASCAR or barbecue or grits until the metaphorical cows come home — you’ll alienate as many people as you convince, I’m sure of it. Those are all topics that prompt debate, that profit from debate. But when I moved to North Carolina from Philadelphia, within a week I realized I had come home. My awakening involved soda pop.

In a cozy booth with coworkers, I decided to give myself the treat of a second Diet Pepsi as I lingered over lunch with these newfound friends. The waitress refilled my glass and did an amazing thing — she did not pick up the bill and scrawl in another drink, the way Philadelphia waitresses did to my lunch checks for a decade. I thought I’d found a special restaurant I’d return to for years. That happened to be true, but by the end of the first week of those welcome-to-town lunches, I realized something: That’s just how it works here in the South. You get as many sodas — or iced teas — as you want with lunch. You can get involved in a good conversation, decide the heck with work, and sit there until 3 p.m. And the drinks just keep coming.

To me, that tastes a lot like heaven.

Of course, I soon realized: That’s not heaven; it’s just the perfect expression of Southern hospitality. The endless soda pop refill is “Go on, set a spell” made flesh. The free refill says, “You had enough, Sug? You sure? Lemme just get you a little more. Stick around. Don’t hurry off. Be comfortable. Stay.”

But hospitality has another side, of course, and soon after I moved to the South — 20 years ago, mind you — I experienced that, too. I went to dinner at a nationally known Durham restaurant one evening and emerged four hours later, glassy eyed, with the Northern members of my party delighted: “Now that,” they said, “was Southern hospitality.”

“No,” I said. “That was a hostage drama.” That wasn’t, Welcome. That was, Stick around whether you like it or not; you are going to sit there and claw your way through our food performance and our three different dessert services, and we’ll tell you when you’re full. That wasn’t hospitality — that was showing off. It was manipulation served on a bed of grits. “Oh, no, folks, you ain’t done yet,” that restaurant said. “Stay.”


Stay: that ultimate expression of hospitality, somewhere between request and command, not only the urge to a beloved guest, but also the rebuke to a misbehaving child or dog. In the lunch booth, with the free soda pop and the ceiling fans and the chummy waitress, Southern hospitality is all it’s chalked up to be: It’s 12-molar, 190-proof distilled essence of welcome, and aren’t you sweet? But at the restaurant where you can’t leave until they bring you a bill, and they won’t bring it until they’re good and done with you, it’s about control, not welcome. It’s a little bit more like Grandma’s insistence on red velvet cake and seven-layer cake and chocolate cake after Sunday dinner — but everybody has to make one and bring it, and don’t even think about getting up from the table until you’ve tried all three, and, meanwhile, greens turn to glop on the stove and dressing dries out in the oven and Grandma accidentally lays the potatoes down on the settee, a case of nerves brought on by the strain of all these guests that she demanded come over. I have endured this kind of hospitality in the family of my beloved wife, a native of this state, and I have seen the toll it takes on host and guest alike. “A tyrannical Southern insistence on hospitality” is how David Denby described it in a recent New Yorker review. “Graciousness,” he concluded, “is both armor and a weapon.”

Denby is far from the first to note that Southern hospitality has its dark side. Roy Blount Jr. discussed it in his famous essay “The Lowdown on Southern Hospitality.” “The truth is, irritation is involved in Southern hospitality,” Blount writes. “Nothing … is sweeter than mounting irritation prolongedly held close to the bosom.”

Good point, but I have to ask: That applies to all hospitality, does it not? I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and although I welcome guests and love to share bed, board, and company, I’m usually tired of the visitors almost from the moment they take off their coats. In any case, I’m internally rehearsing my many sacrifices on their behalf and looking forward to when they leave. I think that irritation attends all hospitality, and it highlights the complexity of the human condition rather than anything particularly Southern.

Not so the free soda pop — that is definitely a Southern thing. Seriously — I return to this time after time because it has real meaning to me. I have encouraged people to move to North Carolina for the free soda pop alone. I have grown so familiar with the free refills at some of my favorite haunts that I have been welcomed to go behind the bar and get it myself, like a houseguest finally, after a prolonged stay, no longer waited on but given free rein to the fridge and cupboards. Now that is hospitality.

I came to the South as a journalist, so from the start, I was showing up on people’s porches and doorsteps, imposing on their hospitality, and let me say straightforwardly: That hospitality never failed. I would ask shocking questions about their organ transplants and their murdered children, their strange customs and their perplexing works of art. They would share their stories with me, and we would laugh together, cry together, eat together. I used to drive home from one tidy farm or another, heading back to Raleigh, sun dipping low, and remind myself: Every person I met that day — every person who cooked me hot dogs or brought me cookies from the pot luck or, yes, endlessly refilled my glass — every one of those people probably voted for … for someone for whom I would never vote. But there I went, and they opened their homes and their lives to me, and sent me on my way with not just a good story but, chances are, a plate covered with foil for my wife. Remember this, I would say to myself. This is where you live. This is how people do here.


So, OK, there’s something to this hospitality business. But from where? And since when? If you go to the books — I always go to the books — you quickly learn that like many things perceived as stereotypically Southern, hospitality has a flavor more rural than simply Southern. That is, the roots of this famous hospitality probably stem from the fact that the South, unlike the citified North, was a community of mostly farms, large and small.

In A History of the South, Francis Butler Simkins and Charles Pierce Roland say “the cult of Southern hospitality” expressed “a means of relieving the loneliness of those living far from each other.” A new friend once pressed hospitality on me on Malta, the island at the belly button of the Mediterranean. When I suggested I could not possibly be as welcome a guest as he made me seem, he explained: “We live on an island. We wait for people like you.” Loneliness powerfully motivates hospitality. On a more basic level, when it took half a day to get to the neighbors, you’d better get more than a ladle of water and a nod from the porch when you rode up.

On the other hand, Frederick Law Olmsted, who traveled throughout the South before the Civil War and wrote of his experiences, expected to pay 75 cents or more each night for the hospitality he received. Hospitality had become a myth even before then. Jacob Abbott’s 1835New England, and Her Institutions describes a traveler riding “through Virginia or Carolina” who is all but kidnapped for no other reason than for the householder he visits to shower him with hospitality. Abbott claims that such hospitality explains why the taverns of the South were so poor: “so they must continue, as long as Southerners are as free, and generous, and open-hearted as they now are.” Apocryphal stories abounded of plantation owners who had slaves waylay strangers into their clutches, the better to demonstrate hospitality. The slaves, meanwhile, presumably knew what it felt like to be required to stay rather longer than they might have wished.

The competitive hospitality macho of, say, the Twelve Oaks barbecue in Gone with the Wind is long gone, and with it the perceived need to try to dress up the overzealous hospitality of slavery. The “cult of hospitality,” however, remains. As late as 1972, Simkins and Roland explained that in the Old South “the forests, the fields, and the streams gave abundantly of their produce,” and even a small Southern farm encouraged hospitality by providing its owner with “nearly all the vegetables known to the American housekeeper of the twentieth century.” In some ways that seems to predict the modern Southern gardener creeping to the neighbor’s door in dark of night to “hospitably” abandon a bushel of excess zucchini. More important, of course, it seems highly optimistic, as does their claim that frugality was unnecessary because “everything was plentiful and inexpensive.” On the other hand, it seems reasonable that “vegetables and eggs were perishable” — every Carolina child less than a couple of generations from the fields knows that pound cake was just a way to find a way to store a pound each of butter, sugar, eggs, and flour. Still, with hungry family and farmhands — to say nothing of slaves — it seems unlikely that farmers were inveigling unwary passersby to their overburdened groaning boards just to avoid throwing away good food.


Whatever its origins and however extreme its exaggerations, only a fool would claim that hospitality has vanished from the modern South. If you think I was thrilled when I first discovered the Miracle of the Endless Soda Pop, I only wish you could have seen me at my first NASCAR race, wandering the infield at Charlotte Motor Speedway from grill to grill, from cooler to cooler, getting fuller and more hospitable with every step. One almost had to duck to avoid the constantly proffered beer, the beckoning burger or barbecue. And if the cries at bikini-clad women in the infield strained propriety, nobody who has walked the infield trails can deny that in the face of such rudeness many a young woman has been moved nonetheless to show her … hospitality.

An even greater modern expression of Southern hospitality comes at the end of a pickup tailgate in the parking lot around, say, Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh any time after 10 a.m. on a home Saturday in the fall (although the stadium could just as easily be Dowdy-Ficklen in Greenville, or Kidd Brewer in Boone; this tradition spreads over the state like red clay runoff from a construction site). In these pregame parking rituals, that antebellum competitive hospitality has returned: Graciousness, Denby said, is both armor and weapon. The clang of battle rings, with SUVs rocking cookware that would make the chef at that restaurant that once held me hostage weep with envy. And high-end bourbon whiskey? You don’t even have to bring your own cup. These people want you to have a good time — and to admit how much better their Bloody Mary or barbecue sauce is than the one across the lane.

Yes, graciousness is armor and weapon. But it’s also, simply, gracious. Southern hospitality may have started because Southerners were a rural people, and it may have codified into a fierce code and a laughable myth — how many steps from Scarlett to Clampett? It may cover our greatest sins and enable our most manipulative behaviors. But it also lets us, as a group, agree on something. Down here, in the South, we’re nice to each other. We’re nice to whoever shows up. We share; we’ve got enough. Stick around and enjoy a little more. Don’t hurry off. Sure, you’re a Yankee, but here you are, and here we are, and have a little more soda pop, and tell me something I don’t know yet. Be with us — be one of us. Be comfortable.

We’re glad you’re here.


From Our State —  Scott Huler’s articles appear in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Los Angeles Times, and Backpacker and Fortune magazines. He has written several books, including his most recent, On the Grid: A Plot of Land, an Average Neighborhood and the Systems that make Our World Work. He served as the 2011 Piedmont Laureate and lives in Raleigh with his wife and two children. Scott’s most recent story forOur State was “The Space to Improvise” (April 2012).


looking ahead…

“A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead.”   – Graham Greene

In 2005 – under the leadership of veteran Chicago police officer and long-time piper Joe Brady, the members of the Carolina Pipes & Drums of the Emerald Society had worked in the Johnston County area to build a public safety pipe band. At the same time, an interest in piping was growing within the Wake County EMS Division as several interested potential piping students pressed Wake County EMS Chief and resident piper – Skip Kirkwood – to help them learn to play the pipes (one of those interested medics was Assistant Chief Tony Crawford).

On May 6, 2006 – while attending the dedication of the North Carolina Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Raleigh, Brady (that day performing with the Charlotte Fire Department pipe band) met Crawford.  Also in attendance that day were Raleigh Firefighters Jason Lane, Joe Harwell, Lloyd Johnson and Garner Firefighter Michael Bishop.   This was the moment from which to look back on.

We often start things with a very good reason behind why we are doing it. There is typically a motivation that is driving us forward. But sometimes we can get so busy doing something that we totally lose sight of WHY we started doing it in the first place!  It’s so critical for each of us to set check points where we stop and remember WHY we started doing it to begin with and then ask yourself if where you are now is fulfilling your reason WHY you started down the path.

We can be doing something so fast and furiously and with so much intent that we get sucked into a tide that just keeps carrying us forward, and we can go weeks and even months or years before we stop and check to see if what we are doing is fulfilling the WHY we did it.

Members of pipe bands often find themselves in this situation. Some start a band with the goal of honoring fallen police officers and firefighters and others start it with the goal of becoming G1 World Champions. There is a big difference between those two and both come at very different costs.

All of us find ourselves in this situation in our own personal lives as well. Our goal may be to take on a new hobby for the sheer enjoyment, yet as we do it more it becomes competitive for us and we can become obsessed with being the very best. In that process we suck the sheer enjoyment out of it and we find that we are no longer achieving the WHY we had hoped to.

When our journey began 10 years ago none of us realized we would have come so far, so fast. It wasn’t luck by any means – rather a simple case of preparedness meeting opportunity. The band is a volunteer group – and their dedication has shined all the way through and leading up to 07 May 2016 at the North Carolina Fallen Firefighters Memorial – that moment where we now find ourselves looking ahead…


to our band moms…

“Successful Mothers are not the ones that have never struggled, they are the ones that never give up, despite the struggles.”  This weekend we will be celebrating Mother’s Day. It’s a time we all take a moment to think about all the things our Mothers do for us in life. It’s also a time when those of us who have become Mothers ourselves feel gratitude for the blessing of being a mom to our children.

My Mother gave birth to and raised TEN CHILDREN! Ten! I had no idea what being a Mother to ten children actually entailed until I gave birth to two little children of my own. As I went through labor and delivery for the first time I thought to myself “she must have been insane to do this ten times!” And as I was running around the house trying to keep my two little children from falling off furniture and putting garbage in their mouths it hit me just how incredible my Mother was to have dealt with chasing ten little children around. How did she do it?!  How did she handle never having a moment to herself? How did she handle little knocks at the bathroom door that wouldn’t go away until she opened it? How did she handle making ten kids’ school lunches and driving ten kids to every sports and dance practice? And how in heaven’s name did she handle going to ten parent teacher conferences every year?  Not to mention having to sit through every band concert and every Halloween parade and every school play. And what about all the Girl Scout cookie drives and the Boy Scout jamborees? Think of ten birthday parties to throw every year and ten kids to wrap Christmas presents for not to mention all the toys to assemble!  I literally can’t even imagine how she juggled everything in those early years as she raised ten children.

And what about the teenage years? Can you imagine raising ten teenagers? Teaching ten teenagers to drive a car. Waiting up for ten teenagers to come home from their dates at night. Arguing and negotiating with ten teenagers on every subject imaginable. Doing laundry for ten teenagers. Buying carloads of groceries and making dinner for ten hungry teenagers every single night. Helping ten teenagers with their Calculus homework and their English essays. Worrying endlessly about what mistakes each of the ten teenagers would make and wondering how she could help them recover from their consequences.

One might think it got easier when the ten kids reached adulthood, but that would be false. There were ten adults that needed help paying for college educations, and five boys to help pay for their church missions. Ten adults to console as they cried about their latest dating heartbreaks. Ten adults to worry about finding the right partner in life. Then ten weddings to pay for which expanded their children to twenty! So there are 20 people to comfort when marriage relationships have struggled, or when divorce has occurred, or when jobs have been lost, or when health problems have arisen.  But it doesn’t end there…

As if that wasn’t enough to be a Mother of 19 (one divorced), enter the grandchildren. First one, then two, and today 37 and still counting! And of course Mother was always there to help as each of her own daughters and daughters-in-law became Mother’s themselves. She is there to hold the grandbabies and to babysit time and time again.  Oh, and did I mention the Great-grandchildren? Because she is up to 10 of those so far!

67 people (yes I can add but you gotta throw her husband in as all of us who are married know there are   times are husbands are like a child too. That is the number of people my Mother mothers today – 67!!!  I cannot even imagine how big her heart must be to love 67 people with a Mother’s unconditional love. Heck, my heart is overwhelmed with caring for and loving my own four (two children, one daughter-in-law, and of course one husband.   I truly can’t fathom how my Mother does it. At the age of 74 she still isn’t finished yet.  There will be more grandkids and more great-grandkids still to come and with each new addition she will be there…because that’s what a Mother does. Because being a Mom is a noun, an adjective, and a verb –

“Mom is one who does whatever it takes to get whatever it is done. Period.”

I would be remiss if I didn’t take time to say “I love you Mom! Thank you for everything you do for me and the 66 other children in your life who wouldn’t have the gift of our own lives if it wasn’t for you and the sacrifices you chose to make to bring us into this world. Happy Mother’s Day Mom!”

And Happy Mother’s Day Sunday to all of you other Moms reading this too!

From Amy Rees Anderson