Charlie Daniels‘ son, Charlie Daniels, Jr., is continuing to talk about the day his famous father passed away. After sharing part of the story earlier in the week, the only child of Charlie and his wife, Hazel, revealed what happened after Charlie died in the hospital.
“Most of the CDB family, business office staff, the band, crew and dear friends joined us at Summit Medical Center’s ER,” Daniels, Jr. recounted in a post on the Charlie Daniels Band’s website. “Everyone said tearful goodbyes to the man who kept most of the people there employed for many decades, some of them as many as 45-47 years. Then some of the hospital staff and the hospital chaplain talked to us about doing a Patriots Honor Walk for dad when they were ready to take him to the hearse and then to the funeral home.”
The Patriots Honor Walk was a way to honor the Grand Ole Opry member for all the work he has done with the military, including starting the non-profit, The Journey Home Project to help those returning from service.
“The Patriots Honor Walk is military-themed, and it is the civilian equivalent to the military Honor Walk as the hospital staff lines the hallways as the recently deceased is taken out of the doors,” Daniels, Jr. explained. “I wanted to stress to the hospital staff, that although dad loved our military, he did not serve. I asked dad about that a number of years ago when some online trolls had called him a draft dodger. The truth of the matter is that he failed his physical due to his poor eyesight when he got his number called.
“Dad wore thick glasses when I was a child – which he attributed to a high fever when he had at an early age – and contact lenses on stage when he performed until Dr. Ming Wang was able to perform LASIK and corneal implants in 2013,” he added. “He wasn’t able to have the operation sooner because he also had astigmatism, and Dr. Wang kept advising him to wait until the procedure was perfected. So, that being said, I wanted to let the staff know that information, and they said the Patriots Honor Walk is similar, but for people who were passionate supporters of our country, and our military. One of the nurses on staff who served in the Navy brought an American flag and she draped it over my dad’s body, and the hospital chaplain handed out cards with a beautiful prayer he had written for us.”
Daniels, Jr. was unaware that, while all the details for the Patriots Honor Walk were being arranged, both the Mt. Juliet Police Department and the Wilson County Sheriff’s Department were already organizing a procession from the hospital the funeral home.
“When it was time, we walked with dad’s body on the gurney as it made its way to the hearse,” Daniels, Jr. shared. “All the ER staff who tended to dad, friends, employees, friends of ours in law enforcement and many others lined the hallway and outdoors as we got ready to leave for the funeral home. Since I had driven myself that morning, I got in line behind the car that mom had been brought to the hospital in. Not only were there friends, and the CDB family in the motorcade, several of MJPD and Wilson County’s finest led the way, and at least two dozen Patriot Guard Riders bringing up the rear on their machines.
“When we turned off I-40 onto Mt. Juliet Road, we started to see people gathered along the street,” he recalled. “With just 45 minutes notice, people stepped out of their places of work, left their homes and in the middle of a pandemic, lined the streets of Mt. Juliet to pay their respects to my father who, despite having moved to Lebanon in 1979, still called Mt. Juliet home. A good friend of ours who had a lot of pull got the land ‘honorarily annexed’ into Mt. Juliet … It was an overwhelming display of love, honor and respect. And it made me extremely proud to be his son.”
Daniels, Jr. admits that it hasn’t been easy to continue on without his father, but both he and his mother are doing the best they can under the circumstances.
“My mom and I are still struggling, and we’ve got a lot to work through, but we want to say thank you for all the flowers, the donations to The Journey Home Project and mostly the prayers for us. They are much needed, and much appreciated,” Daniels, Jr. said. “I also wanted to say thank you to the ER staff at Summit Medical Center. The staff was kind, understanding and went out of the way to take care of dad, and my mom and me. You have no idea how much that meant to us.
“I think I’ve got at least one other soapbox in me about the events of last week, and possibly more,” he concluded. “Nobody wants to hear my opinion like they did dad’s, but I may try to find a few topics to at least get a few more ‘Charlie Daniel’” soapboxes out there for the world, even if it’s from the newer model.”
Charlie was laid to rest on July 10, with Vince Gill, Trace Adkins, Travis Tritt and Gretchen Wilson each performing.