A tear in my eye

Published 2:55 pm Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Restaurants don’t usually bring a tear to my eye unless the food is awful and the price is high.

I had heard about Mission Barbecue, but had never eaten at one. There are many across the country although none in Georgia. The closest one to us is Tallahassee.

We were leaving Panama City Beach and it was past lunch time for Eastern Time Zone people. Remember, Panama City is Central Time, so their lunch business was active even though it was not quite noon.

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The smell of smoked barbecue was thick and heavy and the people were friendly. The item that they have at the top of their menu is Texas-inspired, oak smoked brisket.

You don’t sit down and order. There is a counter with a menu above where you choose your entrée and a side or two, depending upon the depth of your hunger. Everything looked good and, from all that we ordered and tasted, it was. Including the sweet tea with real lemon slices!

Bill and Newt, don’t know their last names, founded Mission Barbecue in 2011, ten years after our infamous Twin Tower attack. That attack inspired them to found a business whose slogan is “The American Way.” Bill and Newt claim there is nothing more American than barbecue. I don’t know about that. There is always the hamburger and the hotdog, but I don’t think I want to quibble with patriots like Bill and Newt.

They are unabashedly patriotic and Old Glory flies at every Mission Barbecue restaurant.  They celebrate American heroes and want to join other American heroes like soldiers, policemen, firefighters, and first responders who serve others.

Let me stop right here and say this. With all the foolishness we hear on that talking box we call a television, you’d never think that our nation is blessed with many, many people who put service to others as the prime motivation of their lives.

If all we listened to were politicians and other hucksters, you would think that a country like ours is the most unfair and selfish nation in world history.

A veteran named Bill helped us settle in to our table and could not have been more helpful throughout our time at Mission Barbecue. Mission looks to hire as many veterans as they can and the walls are full of patriotic slogans and pictures of men and women in uniform.

After lunch, it was almost noon and we were finished and about to leave. The young girl who had taken our order was standing near the door. “Why don’t you stay for just a moment and join us as we sing our National Anthem.

At noon, the restaurant’s intercom interrupts everyone from eating and makes an announcement. “As we do every day at noon, we’d like to invite you to stand and join us as we sing The Star Spangled Banner. The three televisions placed strategically around the room all began to show Old Glory blowing in the wind.

There were no Colin Kaepernicks taking a knee. Instead everyone stopped eating and stood. “Oh, say can you see…” the song began and men, women, black, white, brown or whatever placed their hands over their hearts and joined their voices.

My voice was affected by the lump in my throat and my eyes became moist.

Many say we are hopelessly divided. We are divided, no doubt, but I don’t know about that “hopelessly” part. It seems to me that there are plenty who still love this great nation. Especially around noontime at Mission Barbecue.

As the old commercial put it, “Thanks, I needed that!”