If Merle Haggard was a Branded Man, downtown Bakersfield’s post office is now branded with Haggard’s name, thanks to a bill signed by President Trump.
And Bakersfield came out to celebrate.
The streets of Bakersfield were filled with the Bakersfield Sound Friday morning, with dancing and singing and music from Buck Owens’ son’s group, Johnny Owens and the Buck Fever Band.
All to commemorate Merle Haggard and the downtown Bakersfield post office that will now bear his name.
“I was thinking what is the connection between Merle and a post office. But that element of communication, that element of connection through song, that’s what we have in music and in a post office,” said Bakersfield Mayor Karen Goh.
The bill introduced to congress by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy in 2017 and signed by President Trump in March, designates the downtown post office as “Merle Haggard Post Office Building.”
“He was a poet…today is April sixth, this is how unique this man was, the day he was born is the day he passed, [it] was both April sixth, and the day we’re here today would be his 81st birthday,” said Congressman McCarthy.
Haggard’s family was in attendance to accept the honor.
“Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him. I see him in my children, I see him in the friends I happen to see in the streets. I walk into a bar and you hear his music playing, he’s everywhere, he’s a part of our lives, and now he’s in the post office,” laughed Theresa Haggard, Merle Haggard’s widow.
He went from living in an boxcar in Oildale, to country music infamy.
Haggard’s sister had a message for young country lovers who might just be learning her brother’s famous sound for the first time.
“Be genuine. Be absolutely straight forward genuine. It’s the music of the common man as he said, it’s so true,” said Lillian Haggard Rea.