Family trumps just about everything in the Davidson family but faith and devotion to country and the cause of liberty and freedom ranks right up there, according to Charles F. "Chuck" Davidson III of his close-knit clan.
For Davidson, 62, "Old Glory" will be flying high this Independence Day holiday outside his Hernando home.
Davidson served two tours of duty in Iraq during a military career that has spanned 32 years.
Davidson rose to the rank of Operations Sgt. Major in Baghdad, Iraq in 2003.
"During the year I was there, I was the senior enlisted guy," Davidson said. "We lost 12 soldiers during that rotation, just in our own squadron."
His wife Betty, who also hails from a military family, participated in efforts to memorialize the fallen.
"It seemed like very other month we were having memorial services at Fort Hood," Betty Davidson said. "I would lay in the bed and wonder if they were going to knock on my door tonight."
Davidson described those days in Baghdad, following the fall of Iraq's capital city, just like "the wild, wild west."
"There was a lot of looting going on," added Davidson, who was in Baghdad just two weeks after the statue of Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein was toppled from its pedestal.
Davidson served in the desert of Iraq for 10 months and then went back for a second tour in 2005.
Thoughts of family and home were never far away.
Davidson is the protective younger brother of his older brother Glenn, 65, who hoisted and lowered the American flag at the DeSoto County Courthouse for more than 30 years.
"I feel patriotic because my brother served in the military over in Iraq," Glenn said, noting the brothers' father, Charles F. "Charlie" Davidson Jr. served in World War II.
"I believe we should stand behind our boys and girls serving in the military," Glenn Davidson said.
That's the reason that Glenn Davidson said he enjoyed his flag raising and lowering duties on behalf of DeSoto County government. Davidson has worked for DeSoto County government since 1971.
"I raised and lowered the flag for 30 years," Glenn said. "It meant a lot to me. It represents all the folks who died in the military, and these revise of our elected officials such as senators, Congressmen and even supervisors."
With both parents now gone as well as the parents of Chuck's wife Betty, the Independence Day holiday is a special time of reflection.
"My father William 'Bill' Mixon of Vidalia, Ga., spent nearly his whole life in the military," Betty said.
"In 1948, he turned 19 and joined the Army because he got tired of seeing the back of a mule," Chuck Davidson interjected. "He went into the Korean War and spent two tours in Vietnam."
Growing up during the Vietnam War years, Betty Davidson recalls how her mother used to receive reel-to-reel tapes of his wartime messages in the mail.
"My dad wasn't much of a letter writer," Betty said. "He would send these tapes and mother learned how to work the machine. When he would send them home to us, the first thing we would hear would be Johnny Cash music. Then, we would hear my father's voice. He would say, 'I know those rooms are clean. I know those beds are made.' The night he came home from Vietnam, it was about 2:30 in the morning. We drove to Atlanta to pick him up."
Betty Davidson's mother worked in a shirt factory to help the family make ends meet.
Her father Bill was sitting in a foxhole in Korea when a Jeep rolled up and a man in an olive uniform smoking a corncob pipe stepped out. It was General Douglas MacArthur.
That would not be Bill Mixon's only brush with celebrity or fame. During his tours in Vietnam, he showed entertainer Bob Hope around.
The Davidson family's patriotism is on quiet display for all the world to see.
A flagpole is front and center in the family's home along Jaybird Road.
Chuck Davidson has an entire room dedicated to displaying military service memorabilia, including swords, flags and medallions.
More memorabilia decorates the walls of the family's living room.
Yet, Chuck Davidson said the deep patriotism he feels comes from deep within his own heart.
"Patriotism comes from the heart," Davidson said. "I love this country and the American flag. It's the freedoms we enjoy as Americans, day in and day out."
Robert Lee Long is Community Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252.