Irene Smith, recorded remarks at Hank Williams’ gravesite, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016, 9 a.m.

Irene Smith: “… and I know that if my mother were standing here looking around this circle, she would express her gratitude for all of the love and devotion and respect that you pay to the life and the memory of her brother, Hank Williams.

And I know that she would feel that very deeply in her heart. And so I feel quite honored to be able to carry that message to you from her.

And also I had the opportunity last night to be at the museum, and to experience a circle of real close musicians who have come out today to honor Uncle Hank’s music and once again to honor his memory, and to just sit in this circle of people who are actually longtime historians and carriers of the facts and the legend.

And yesterday I had the opportunity of riding around Montgomery with Terry Faust, and I learned so much about my own history that it was amazing. I’m not a carrier of the facts, and there’s a lot that you can tell me that I don’t know. But I don’t think that being a historian or carrying the facts is what the memory of Hank Williams is about. I have the feeling. I know what it feels like to see his face, I know what it feels like to hear his music, and I know what it feels like to experience the vulnerable heart that I feel he’s cultivated in his culture. And for me that’s extraordinarily precious and I don’t feel that I really need to carry the facts.

For me, Uncle Hank stands for the courage in expressing one’s whole self, the courage in being willing to allow the vulnerable heart to be exposed. And just like I think in the early ‘40s, when he came out and really expressed the voice of the common people and gave that suffering a voice, I think today as I experience people that are here, I know that that message continues. And that for me, the greatest message in his music is that common suffering that we all share. And the message is about our shared humanity. And as I look around this circle, and as I experienced people last night, I feel the bond. There’s no greater bond than recognizing our shared humanity and our connection. And for me, that’s what the message of Hank Williams is.

So, I would like to express my gratitude to you as his devoted fans, and I would also like to express my gratitude to you for receiving me [pauses, looks around the circle, presses hands together], and welcoming me into your circle. “[bows toward crowd]

Jeff Petty: “A lot of people have been coming here a lot longer than I have for sure, but I’m not sure that I’ve ever heard more eloquent words spoken here at Hank’s grave. I’m so proud that you’re here. “

Irene Smith: “I’m so glad to be here.”

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