Rise to the Moment of Truth Saturday, April 1, 2023


Sean of the South: Welcome to Buc-ee’s

Buc-ee’s convenience store sits outside Athens, Alabama, like a giant squatting beaver.

Sean of the South: Barbecue in Montgomery

This food stirs up a lot of memories. Because that’s what good barbecue does. It makes you remember.

Sean of the South: Birmingham at breakfast

The first thing you should know about me is that I am very nosy person. I get this from my mother. I have my black belt in rubbernecking.

Sean of the South: A mother’s love

“I am a little old woman who lives in an assisted living facility…” her email began. “I had a baby when I was fourteen…” she wrote.

Sean of the South: Phone call

“Hello?” said a girl’s voice. “Someone told me your husband worked on old cars?”

Sean of the South: B’Ham

Our plane touched down in Birmingham at about 7 p.m. The captain said, “Welcome to the Magic City, we hope you’ve enjoyed your flight.”

New York
Sean of the South: Empire City

A look of wistfulness comes over the face of the young woman making my sandwich at a New York deli counter. “Birmingham,” she said. “I’m from Birmingham. I was born there.”

Sean of the South: Homewood

The young woman cutting my hair goes by the name Shelby. She is as country as a collard, with an accent like Ribbon cane syrup.

Sean of the South: Pone

I love cornbread. I was raised on the stuff, just like everyone else in America.

Selma tornado damage
Sean of the South: Selma

The church is gone. All that remains of the Reformed Presbyterian Church is a log pile and some crumbled bricks. You can’t even tell it was a church.

Sean of the South: Breakfast King

The kid is an artist. He stands behind the flat top grill, flipping eggs. I am at your quintessential American eatery. It’s raining. But it’s warm inside. And I’m happy here.

Sean of the south
Sean of the South: 2023

The dusk is reflecting off Douglas Lake. I am nestled in the French Broad River valley, seated on the porch of a log cabin, watching the Great Smoky Mountains continue to be Great.

Sean of the south
Sean of the South: Heavenly

Heaven is real. Sometimes it’s hard for us to see it. Sometimes the pain of life can make you blind.

Sean of the south
Sean of the South: Miss Fancy

Avondale Park was a glorified zoo. A rest home for animals. There wasn’t much going on in Avondale. People paid a few pennies to see Miss Fancy eat hay and make poop.

Sean of the South: The Opry

The first concert I ever saw was the Oak Ridge Boys. I was 2 years old. Mama took me. I pooped my diaper while they were singing “Elvira.” My mother changed me at the foot of the stage as I was singing at the top of my voice. One of the Oak Ridge Boys gagged, mid-song.

Christmas tree
Sean of the South: The one

‘Twas a Christmas tree lot in Alabama. It was the kind of operation that does business in the parking area of a major shopping complex.

Santa Claus
Sean of the South: Dear Sean

"The whole WORLD can’t be wrong about Santa, can they?"

Sean of the south
Sean of the South: Magic City

I thought to myself about how lucky I am to live in a place called Magic City. Because it really is.

Dietrich becca
Sean of the South: Pretty

Becca is 10 years old. She waits for me patiently outside the restaurant because—big surprise—I am late for our meeting. I will be late for my own cremation.

Sean of the south
Sean of the South: Ode to Bama

It’s only college football. It’s not real life. It’s just college-age kids on a field, wearing shoulder pads, trying seriously to give each other concussions. It’s just a game.

Sean of the South: For the love of cornbread

I don’t engage in controversy. But sometimes I have to. And this is one of those have-to moments.

Sean of the south
Sean of the South: The L word

Earlier this morning, I was on a radio show. The host drilled me with loaded questions. It was a disaster. I was supposed to be plugging my new book, instead the host was asking slanted questions about hot-button, divisive topics.

Sean dietrich
Sean of the South: Mobile, Alabama

This week, my wife and I visited the Callahan School for the Deaf & Blind with our dog. We were running late. Our vehicle squealed into the parking lot on two wheels.

Sean of the south
Sean of the South: Alabama

God bless the people of this fine state. God bless the memory of Hank Senior. And God bless Alabama.

Sean of the south
Sean of the South: The helpers

The hotel parking lot. Early afternoon. He was packing his truck. Slamming toolbox lids. Reorganizing luggage in the rear cab. Iowa plates.

Sean of the south
Sean of the South: Cheaha

Today, I am no longer the little boy whose father died by suicide. I am a man now. A man whose life ambition is to help others who have fallen.

Sean of the south
Sean of the South: The widower

The first thing you should know about Joseph is that he isn’t an optimist. In fact, he has no faith in this world. And he has even less faith in people.

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