September 20, 1964 was a bright, crisp day in Tulsa, Oklahoma when a small group of people went to the upstairs office of a justice of the peace to witness Hazel Juanita Alexander and Charles Edward Daniels take their vows and enter into the bonds of holy matrimony.
The service was short and the small band headed over to the Piccadilly Cafeteria for lunch, which concluded the planned part of the ceremony – and after spending a few minutes with Hazel’s mother and dad, who were probably wondering what their baby daughter could possibly see in an itinerant musician who owned a couple of suits and a guitar – I took my new bride to the somewhat less than luxurious hotel I was staying in, which was to be our home for the foreseeable future.
The Fondalite Club in Tulsa was a regular stop for the Jaguars, my band at the time, but we only spent a few weeks a year there, and the long periods in between. Times were tough, and it takes a strong and devoted kind of love to endure during the frequent separations.
But Hazel was patient, believing me when I said there were better times on the way and anxiously awaiting the time when we could be together.
Then, in 1965, when our son Charlie Jr. was born, the time away from home became even harder to contend with for both of us. I remember being away from home for a sixteen-week stretch when Charlie was an infant.
I came home so anxious to see my family and hold my baby son, and when I picked him up, he started crying. He didn’t know who I was.
Even after we moved to Nashville in 1967, the periods of separation would continue as I pursued my dreams, logging millions of miles and untold weeks away from my family in the process.
We moved to town with a twenty-dollar bill and the clutch out of the car we were driving, and Hazel made do with whatever I could bring home in any given week. But the one thing we were meticulously careful about was that our son would never do without anything he needed, and her first priority was to make sure he was well taken care of.
Even when things started looking better and I got a recording contract, the incessant traveling my career required still kept me away from home for long periods of time.
But when I did get home, whatever time I had off was spent with my family as we made the best out of whatever time we had together.
I missed so much of my son growing up, so many birthdays, anniversaries and even my days at home for Christmas and other holidays were limited, but all through the difficult years of my being gone most of the time, and the days of skimpy budgetary, rattletrap cars and secondhand appliances, my wife never lost sight of what I was trying to accomplish and giving me whatever latitudes and parameters it took for me to get there.
She has gone through so much for me, and any success I’ve had would never have come along without her steadfast support and encouragement.
In 1983, when Charlie Jr. started college, I had a bus outfitted for the two of us, and Hazel and myself began living our dream of being together night and day, traveling around the country, still pursuing my ambitions, but doing it together.
She has been my rock, my tether to reality, my reason for getting up when I get knocked down.
I would lay down my life for her without hesitation, and I know without doubt that, other than giving my heart to Jesus, marrying Hazel is the best, the most important and the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done.
It’s hard to believe it’s been 55 years since that sunny day in Tulsa when we joined our lives together and went out to face the world, to be tested in life’s crucible and to find what real and lasting love is.
Would I do it all over again?
In a New York minute.
What do you think?
Pray for our troops our police and the peace of Jerusalem
God Bless America
— Charlie Daniels
Charlie Daniels is a legendary American singer, song writer, guitarist, and fiddler famous for his contributions to country and southern rock music. Daniels has been active as a singer since the early 1950s. He was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry on January 24, 2008.