He remembers that it can take a catastrophe to make people remember their common national bond: "9/11 was definitely a wakeup call to everybody about our country and about how precious it is -- about what can happen here and what did happen here. It never happened here before, and it showed we're a lot more vulnerable than we used to be. So as we go along, we forget about those pictures of the planes crashing into the trade towers and all the things that went on that day."
In 2006, CBS "Early Show" weatherman Dave Price asked him why at his age he was performing for soldiers in Iraq. Charlie's answer was precious: "I can't carry a gun ... you know, I can't fight, but I can darn sure carry a guitar and pick, so that's why I'm here." On CBS last year, Price recalled, "With all the great acts that are generous enough to give their time, when Charlie Daniels steps in front of these soldiers and sailors and Marines, it's like ... unreal."
The Charlie Daniels Band has performed for U.S. troops all over the world, not just in Iraq, but everywhere from Germany and Bosnia to South Korea to Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
Their brand-new album, "Land That I Love," underlines a strong theme in Charlie's music. That's a snapshot of his career, an apt description of a love affair with his country that he has expressed in music for over a half-century.
He was welcomed into the Grand Ole Opry Hall of Fame in 2008 and the Musicians Hall of Fame in Nashville in 2009. The Opry honor was announced while he was working for charity again, picking and fiddling for the Christmas for Kids benefit at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium. Martina McBride walked on stage with a small gift box containing the honor.
But Charlie has brought a much larger basket of gifts to this country and its fighting men and women. He deserves every honor that comes his way. Those of us who can consider Charlie Daniels a friend are honored that way.