What a country, right? As we celebrate America’s 244th birthday this week, let’s pause and list a few reasons to love America.

♦ Thanks to cable TV and YouTube, we can still enjoy Elvis, Johnny Carson, Carol Burnett, Marshal Dillon and Hoss Cartwright, even though few people under 40 know who they are.

♦ We have amazing first responders who respond directly to the situations the rest of us are trying to run away from.

♦ We have news channels that lean to the left, and news channels that lean to the right. And we are not forced to watch any of them.

♦ We have towns called Ducktown, Turtletown, Suck Creek, Gruetli-Laager, Orme, Hogjaw Valley, Rising Fawn, Talking Rock, Peavine, Nutbush, Bell Buckle, Rugby, Greenback, Bucksnort, Bugtussle, Flintstone, Burning Bush, Isabella, Box Springs, Rocky Face, Lick Skillet, Butts, Arab, Bartlebaugh, Beersheba Springs, and Scratch Ankle. I’ve been everywhere, man.

♦ We have farmers’ markets with fresh, homegrown produce.

♦ We have the Country Music Hall of Fame.

♦ They still make Yoohoo, Nehi Grape, Zagnut bars, and Samoan Girl Scout Cookies.

♦ We have the “Hot Now” sign at Krispy Kreme.

♦ We have an American original named Dolly Parton, who shares her good fortune.

♦ We have Betty White, Tom Hanks, and Willie Nelson. Not long ago, Willie recorded a song called, “I’m Still Not Dead.” That’s his best title since “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die.”

♦ We still have “The Price Is Right.” It’s TV comfort food.

♦ We still have sweet tea, and Southern restaurants that consider macaroni and cheese a vegetable.

♦ We still have waitresses that call old men “Sweetheart.” Or, at least that’s what I’ve heard.

♦ Even with tablets, Kindles, and all the other items that are “better” than books, we still have great libraries.

♦ A guy in Florida who was responsible for making millions of robo-calls, ripping off folks all over the nation, has been arrested and imprisoned. It’s a start.

♦ We still have some folks who don’t park illegally in handicapped spaces, who stop at the white line at a traffic intersection, who use their headlights in the rain, and who return their shopping carts to their stalls. We don’t have enough of those people, but we’re working on the others.

♦ We have low gas prices. For now, anyway.

♦ We have shopping malls. For now, anyway.

♦ We have weather forecasting technology that can usually tell us it’s going to rain five days in advance, and can usually give us a few minutes’ notice on a tornado, right down to our street.

♦ We have home-grown tomatoes, Georgia peaches, and Sugar Baby watermelons.

♦ We have Caller ID.

♦ We have texting. Yes, it can be annoying, but it’s a blessing when your children live far away. It sure beats long distance calls, doesn’t it?

♦ We have record stores, so we can buy back the vinyl records we cashed in 20 years ago, before we realized vinyl was cool.

♦ We still have nice people at convenience stores who can give us verbal directions.

♦ We have less painful dental procedures, thanks to that wonderful nitrous oxide that makes my toes tingle.

♦ We have school bus drivers who safely transport children to and from their homes each day.

♦ We have root beer floats, banana splits, and hot fudge cakes.

♦ We have chocolate chip cookies. Not the ones you buy in packages at the store. The ones fresh out of the oven. I’ll have just one more. Then another.

♦ We have postal employees and police officers who check on elderly residents.

♦ We have great food labeling, with information on nutrition, calories, ingredients, and expiration dates. Not that many years ago, we had none of that information.

♦ We have “Jeopardy.” Yeah, 30-something years after I said it wouldn’t last. “It’s too hard,” I said. And thankfully, we still have Alex Trebek, who has been battling cancer in its deadliest form.

♦ We have online, do-it-yourself income tax services that cost next-to-nothing. I said that wouldn’t last either. Don’t you love it when I’m wrong?

♦ We have robotic vacuum cleaners that work, sort of. I also see robotic lawn mowers. I’m glad we have them, but I hope I never need one.

♦ We have wheeled suitcases that really work.

♦ We still have toilet paper. For a while there, I was starting to wonder.

♦ We have Honey Nut Cheerios, with banana flavored Almond Milk. Talk about a guilty pleasure.

♦ We still have newspapers, and I hope you are thankful for that. I know I am.

♦ And, we still have a free press that seeks truth, and holds those in power accountable. Is it perfect? Absolutely not. But trust me: You don’t want the alternative.

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David Carroll, a Chattanooga news anchor, is the author of “Volunteer Bama Dawg,” a collection of his best stories. You may contact him at 900 Whitehall Road, Chattanooga, Tenn. 37405 or 3dc@epbfi.com.

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