While I have a great regard for the commonwealth of Kentucky where I currently reside, there is always a part of me that will take great pride in my origins. Although I was born in the state of New York I grew up and spent the majority of my life in Florida. The sunshine state is mostly known for its beautiful white sand beaches, golf course communities and of course “Snow Birds” (folks who live in northern states that enjoy the mild Florida winters). While this southern- most state of the U.S. is never regarded as “the South” culturally, in many ways it can plead its case in Dixie heritage. Florida was the third state to succeed from the union in 1861 and many confederate battles were fought across the state.
I recently came across a documentary called “Florida Crackers” that is an in depth look at the Floridian Cowboy. Now most would hear cowboy and think about the great cattle drives out west, but come to find out Florida was the first state to actually have the horse and the cow (being that neither species are native to North America). Horses were originally brought to the Americas by the Spanish. Because of the Spanish Florida also has the oldest city in our country that being St. Augustine. The grassy, flat, and yearly green land of Florida was a great place to herd cattle and started the trend.
In more modern history Florida gave birth to many of the pioneers of music. Some of southern rock’s finest gems are Florida natives. The Allman brothers (Gregg & Duane) spent most of their childhood on the East coast of Florida in Daytona Beach. Dickey Betts (another Allman Brother band member) was born in West Palm Beach and later met Duane and Gregg Allman a few miles up the coast in Daytona. Tom Petty is a native of Gainesville Florida, and the Lynrd Skynrd gang hails from Jacksonville. Even Ray Charles who was highly influential to the southern type of sound spent most of his early life in Florida and even his first music groups were from Tampa and Orlando.
In my recent travels I have come to fall in love with many places. I have been enthralled by southern hospitality in Alabama, been captivated by the beauty of the mountains of California, overwhelmed by the vastness of New York City, and taken back in time by historical sites over the south. But It seems that state pride is something that everyone carries to some extent, every place in this great country has a history of its own and I am proud to be a Floridian and an American.