Bradley County Commissioner Charlotte Peak said she had something to get "off her heart" Monday evening, as she gave an emotional and patriotic post-Independence Day speech during her report at the commission meeting at the courthouse.
"I don’t know about everybody else, but I think the Fourth of July came just in time this year," she said in opening her comments.
"During a time when we have been separated by a pandemic and social disagreements, we needed a day that brought our families together. Not just our own individual families — but our entire American family.
"It is a day we celebrate our pride in America and love of country. It is a day we celebrate who and where we are and how far we have come, and the promise of how far we can go.
"We don’t do as a football player might do and take a knee. In that game, 'taking a knee' means we give up. We’re not going to run any farther. We don’t trust anybody to catch the ball. We’re not going to try.
"That isn’t the America I celebrated this weekend, nor is it how I celebrated.
I stood under a sky that was lit by 1,000 different colors and revealed the truth about who we are as it lit up the faces of people with just as many different colors, heritage and creeds.
"That is a truth that doesn’t just brighten our skies, it brightens our nation and is embraced far too little or often by those of us given the honor to serve our citizens.
"It says it on our money — E Pluribus Unum — '... Together as one.'
"One football player said over the weekend that he would not celebrate the Fourth of July because it celebrated 'white supremacy.' I guess he forgot to read what was printed on each of those millions of dollar bills he has, and got from tickets bought by every race, creed and color.
"This is the same player who encourages going down on a knee when they raise our flag and play our National Anthem. This disrespect for our nation is heartbreaking and disappointing. And the misguided attempt to get notoriety only tears at the very fabric of our existence.
"That flag has been taking some hits lately. But, it has for a long time. Johnny Cash used to sing about 'that ragged old flag.'
"Our flag was designed to unite and be the symbol that represents all of us.
"And, just like our country, it is made up of different pieces and has more than one color. Many pieces and colors brought together as one. One nation under God.
"It is before that God where you will find me on my knees, praying that our country finds the strength and the courage to stand up and cheer how blessed we are to live in such a country, where we can be honest about how we feel without being jailed. We have the freedom to worship how we wish. We have the freedom to vote and help choose who we want as our leaders. And we have opportunities to make an honest living with a good idea or a simple talent. The flag is that symbol for all and a beacon of hope for many who came here in search of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They are what make up this 'great melting pot' we call America! The land of opportunity and freedom to peruse your dreams.
"July 4th is not celebrating our past, which no one can say was without its sins and imperfections; that should never be disregarded.
"It celebrates a great nation and its people who were able to stand up, catch the ball, and start that run to the end zone of freedom and justice for all.
"The truth is we are not perfect and are not there yet. But, we haven’t given up. Our forefathers never said we were perfect and realized that in 1776, and states that in part of the Preamble, 'We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union,' but we strive for perfection and we keep going.
America does not give up and that alone is worth celebrating.
"During this era of the 'cancel culture,' and the so-called reimagining of America, I will stand and say that I’m proud to be an American. And I will quote from Lee Greenwood’s famous song, "I'm proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free, and I won’t forget the men who died who gave that right to me, and I’d gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today, cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land, God bless the USA!"
Several commissioners praised Peak's presentation, as did some members of the audience.