A Few Patriotic
The Band Perry
July 1st. 7 a.m. Home again for three days. This summer morning for us begins as it does just like every other morning we get home: Wake up early on the tour bus after driving all night, drop by Peggy Ann's for some breakfast cinnamon twists, and make our way towards Main Street.
Leaving the bakery, we drive under a familiar old friend. "Ye Olde Towne Gate Greeneville," the archway reads. On the left we pass the victory field of the Greene Devils, quiet now except for the July lawn mowers.
Our car rolls on into our small downtown, and suddenly we feel it. That feeling that we always get when we are pleasure-driving through the heart of Greeneville -- peace of mind, comfort, a sense that when we are here, we aren't just passers-thru like in every other town we play in, but rather that we belong somewhere. It's the best feeling in the whole world.
Today at first glance, Main Street looks exactly the same as when we last left her. The three of us double-check to make sure the Civil War cannonball lodged in the front wall of Cumberland Presbyterian Church is still intact. We reacquaint ourselves with our beloved General Morgan Inn. The courthouse looks open for business.
All of a sudden and all at once the three of us spot something out of the ordinary. Something bright and beautiful. Something old but new. Some wonderful soul has renovated the American flag on top of the old First National Bank building. The car comes alive. Hooray!
We think a lot of this 1920s-era bulb-light sign, born in the same time as the "The Greatest Generation." In fact, we think so much of it that we chose to light a few flares underneath it and snap a photo for the back cover of our new album, "Pioneer."
To us the sign was more than folk art and broken electronics. It was a symbol of a time when the Pioneering spirit was at its most untamed; a time of prosperity and promise; a time of national loyalty and level-headedness.
Back then, folks were proud. Proud of a country that stood for something, a country that made something of itself, a country that hung together through thick and thin. Those were great days.
Fast forward to now. Sometimes it seems as though these lights of patriotism, optimism, and invention have dimmed across our Land. An invasive sense of negativism looms on our television screens.
We know it's been a tough few years, but still, despite our Nation's worn-out spirit, we here in The Band Perry believe that this can be our finest hour.
After all, there are still so many things to be discovered, so many good things to be done, and so many songs to sing. As marvelous as the days of old were, we have a confidence that the greatest days of our country -- and, dare we say, of our town -- are still ahead of us. All we need is for someone to turn the lights on again ...
That's why we are thrilled to hear the rumor that, on our nation's birthday, the hallowed flag sign of downtown Greeneville will once again be plugged in, and the red, white, and blue lights of old will be brought back to life to burn bright over Main Street.
All of us will come together, sit in our lawn chairs and on our blankets to witness this tiny miracle. What a wonderful way to celebrate Independence.
Somehow, though, it feels like so much more than just a sign being returned to its former glory. It seems bigger than simply a July 4th spectacle. Somehow it feels like a movement, a movement forward.
One light leads to more light.
Perhaps the ceremony of the restoration of our flag on Main Street will be an inspiring first step in reigniting a patriotic beacon all over the United States. After all, the township of Greeneville and the like are the backbone of our country. If we won't start the revival, who will?
Sure, the big cities are impressive with their high-rise buildings, but it's here in these dot-on-the-map places where community keeps us all together as Americans. It's where we help each other and have each other's back.
Small towns are the only places left on Earth where we can be still enough to be inspired and to hope. Hope that this is not as good as it gets. Hope that just like the flag, with hard work and a little repair we as a people can shine brighter than ever before.
Too romantic, you say? We say no.
We say, let's turn ALL of the lights on downtown! Today the flag, tomorrow let's fire up the old Capitol Theatre sign and get together for a play. Let's open up an ice cream parlor or a bookstore and discuss life over our favorite flavors and novels.
We'll meet you there! Let's call it "Greeneville, TN: The home of the next great generation." All things are possible within these county lines.
July 3rd. 11 p.m. We are leaving again, but it's with some real wistfulness. There are many times when we wish we could be in two places at the same time, and this is truly one of them.
We will not be able to be here for the relighting of the old flag. But we feel in our hearts that it's our mission, and also our opportunity, to take the inspiration that we've found here in the mountains with you to the outermost corners of our country.
Though not here in person, we will be with you in spirit. Our hearts will be burning bright-red, white, and blue right alongside yours.
Thank you for giving us a place to belong to, Greeneville. We are proud to be one of you. Happy 4th of July.
-- Kimberly, Reid and Neil
Editor's Note: The Perrys are in Nashville today, preparing to headline tonight's wind-up segment of the "Music City July 4th: Let Freedom Sing!" celebration at Riverfront Park, one of the largest 4th of July shows in the country.