Living in North Carolina is a privilege. And we who enjoy that perquisite, whether by nativity or settlement, are duty-bound to convey the perspicuous delights of that good providence now and then. We certainly intend no unwholesome boasting, nor do we seek to engage in any rude regional rivalry. However, we North Carolinians do have reason to thank the Lord. And you can forgive us if we “crow about it” just a bit. I suspect you all from the other forty-nine states in our blessed Union may be prone to cackle and caw yourselves. And we think that is just fine.
Our State, sometimes called “the Old North State,” is comprised of three distinctly magnificent regions to enjoy—(1) the lush, blue-green Mountains of Western Carolina; (2) the verdant hills and the Yadkin-Pee Dee river valleys forming the “Carolina Mesopotamia,” which is the Piedmont of Central Carolina; and (3) the expansive shoreline of unsurpassed beauty in Coastal Carolina. The Old North State—sometimes “the Tarheel State,” “the Land of the Longleaf Pine”— also boasts of some of the finest institutions of higher learning in the nation. The oldest state university in America graces the soft, serene landscape of Chapel Hill.
History? Whether you are looking for British Colonial sites, Revolutionary War battlefields, Civil War reenactments, or even prehistoric adventure outings, we have it right here for you. The land of the Cherokee, the Presbyterian Scotch-Irish, the Anglican English, Baptist and Methodist Welsh, Lutheran German, Jewish, and African Methodist-Episcopal have each left indelible signs of their faith and dreams. In Old Salem, the Winston-Moravians remain an active Christian community.
Now, we admit that our sister states have some charming places of their own (we Tarheels are perpetually aware of our cousins to the north, south, and west, and their considerable claims to history, as well). However, we would add that you can experience our unique natural history whilst following in the footsteps of explorers, founders, immigrants, and American Indians. Why, your family might even enjoy our wild Spanish mustangs—our “Banker ponies”—prancing or running in teams through wind-swept sea oats and across the expansive dunes of Shackleford and Ocracoke. Take the little ferry out to these one-of-a-kind islands and bring a picnic. Oh, and when you do, get some Carolina bbq to bring along.
Speaking of ocean and islands causes my mind to wander to our famous inland waterways, like a lazy canoe in July, down the Cape Fear or the Haw rivers. Such notable and ancient streams meander through the hills and forests, lowlands and coastal plains to meet the mighty Atlantic ocean that formed our eastern boundaries. But, I often prefer the Nantahala, in the Western Carolina mountains. There, one can dare to ride the rapids or, in another spot, to float on an old tire tube. I also like to fish the Davidson River, in the grand gorge. Now, our rivers are less like the tremendous watery six-lane interstates of commerce in other parts of our nation and more nearly like a slow, Sunday afternoon float. But we like them anyway.
The Lord also blessed our fair Tarheel State with four seasons. And which are the longest? Spring and Fall. Dogwood graces our land from mountain to sea. Cardinals light upon our state flower, the Dogwood, and color the forest green shadows of a tall pine with a sudden scarlet. And from roses to wildflowers you can see it all. Now we don’t pretend that our summers are exempt from a little heat, particularly in Coastal Carolina and Piedmont regions, but a mild spring can last until June and even make you look forward to it. And the autumn breezes will begin to catch your attention in September. Of course, if you get a little too warm or humid, head up to the Highlands in the summer. You will enjoy significantly cooler temperatures and lower humidity. And if you want to try for a rainbow or brown trout while you are up there, you have a sporting chance at bringing in one of those beauties. Camp by a waterfall and fry up some supper. You might see a bear or even a herd of elk grazing in a mountain valley.
Well, you might wonder why I take the time to write about North Carolina. You see, in 2018, the Governor of North Carolina conferred the Order of the Long Leaf Pine upon your humble writer. This award is a nominative award. My name was given to the Governor by Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. I had the joy of praying with and for Senator Burr in my role as Command Chaplain of U.S. Military Intelligence (Readiness Command, or the Army Reserve intelligence component). The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is a public service recognition. We think of it as a very honorable recognition, although it remains a very humble and unassuming rank. But part of the responsibilities of conferral is serving as an ambassador for our beautiful State and raising a toast to the blessings God has bestowed upon our fair land. So, with these few lines of gratitude, I do, indeed, lift both my glass and my heart, to honor the Land of the Longleaf Pine:
Here’s to the land Of the longleaf pine The summer land Where the sun doth shine Where the weak grow strong And the strong grow great Here’s to “down home,” The Old North State!
So, this summer, do consider a little trip to our mountains, cities, museums, national and state parks, lighthouses, beaches, or historical sites. And if you do happen to wander over this way, do remember to say a prayer for us. And I am sure we will do the same for you.
Visit North Carolina.