CBS News' Bob Schieffer recalls in his best-selling memoir This Just In a time when his fellow Texans were ashamed of something relating to the president of the United States.
The year was 1963, and President John F. Kennedy had just been assassinated while riding in a motorcade down a Dallas street.
Schieffer, at the time a 26-year-old crime reporter for the Star-Telegram writes: "At once I was stunned and embarrassed. Stunned, because such violence was unthinkable in those days; hurt and embarrassed, because it had happened in our home state ... Why did it have to happen in Texas?"
Fast forward nearly 40 years later to London, where one of country music's most celebrated female groups, the multiple Grammy Award-winning Dixie Chicks, are playing to a sold-out concert hall. With America on the brink of war and the world's stability hanging in the balance, Chicks member Natalie Maines, a Texas native, decides it would be a good time to empathize with what she presumed to be an America-hating audience.
"Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas," she said.
What was she thinking?
As a journalist and sometime actor, I know what it is like to be on stage in front of an audience. I want people to like me. I want you to like this column. But that doesn't mean I would tailor my message to suit a specific audience.
In a half-baked apology, Maines tried to justify her comments by saying, "the anti-American sentiment that has unfolded here [Europe] is astounding."
Does that mean she would have said she was proud the president is from Texas if the Dixie Chicks were playing a USO concert for troops in Kuwait, or anywhere where the pro-American sentiment is more prevalent? The answer is probably yes.
Performers love attention. It's the reason many people enter show business. Ask most American Idol contestants what motivates them, and fame or fortune is usually among the top two responses.
Music has always been a forum for political dissent. But Bob Dylan the Dixie Chicks are not. And despite being the best-selling female country group of all time, the fact that thousands of their fans are trashing their Chicks CDs and urging radio stations in Texas and beyond to drop them from playlists, proves the Chicks' music is the "take it or leave it" kind.
As Fox News Sunday host Tony Snow so eloquently put it during commentary on Special Report With Brit Hume the other night, "the Dixie Chicks are in deep ka-ka."
Maines has since apologized, saying her statement in London was disrespectful to the office of the American president, adding to her earlier remark that one privilege of being an American citizen is "being free to voice your own point of view."
Well, Natalie, another one of those privileges is deciding how you want to spend your money. In these days of online piracy and overpriced CDs, no commercial musician can afford to lose even one paying fan.
Meanwhile, President George W. Bush and U.S. allies gave Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and his sons until tomorrow night to leave the country or face war. The commander-in-chief apparently has bigger fish to fry than the Dixie Chicks.
Almost 40 years ago, another commander-in-chief stood in the rain in Forth Worth, Texas, speaking to Texans just hours before his death.
"And in the final analysis [America's] strength depends upon the willingness of the citizens of the United States to assume the burdens of leadership," he said. "I know one place where they are. Here, in this rain, in Fort Worth, in Texas, in the United States, we're going forward."
Those words are equally poignant today, and sound like music to the ears.
Mike Straka is the project manager for FOX News's Internet operations and contributes as a features reporter and producer on FOX Magazine (Sundays 11 p.m. on FNC) and as a reporter and columnist for FOXnews.com.