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2015 Man of the Year: Lane Pittman

Lane Pittman / YouTube
• December 29, 2015 10:00 pm

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Let’s count the ways that Lane Pittman is a great American.

That he loves this country should go without saying; just check out that outfit. On July 4, 2015, the 22-year-old Floridian donned jorts and an American flag tank top (complete with matching socks), grabbed a Stratocaster, and took to the streets of Neptune Beach’s annual Independence Day celebration to rock the Star Spangled Banner, Hendrix-style.

A crowd gathered. People cheered and sang. Lane wailed on his Fender. He held down that final F and transitioned right into Ted Nugent’s "Stranglehold." Francis Scott Key would no doubt approve.

Local authorities were less impressed. Police officers handcuffed Pittman and placed him in the back of a cruiser. He was later charged with breaching the peace and, astonishingly, inciting a riot.

But like the patriots to whom he paid tribute, Pittman would not quietly submit to the tyranny of unjust laws enforced with ruthless bureaucratic efficiency by the local constabulary. He was determined to fight the charges.

After six weeks of court appearances and legal red tape, the state’s attorney decided to drop the charges.

"ALL. GLORY. TO GOD," Pittman exclaimed in a Facebook post. "SO pumped!! Thank you for all the prayers, kind words, and thoughts!! It means the world!!"

His attorney got right to the heart of it: "Despite the delay, Mr. Pittman is pleased the State’s Attorney’s office declined to prosecute him for expressing his patriotism and exercising his First Amendment right by playing the National Anthem on Independence Day."

By October, Pittman was back to jamming the national anthem not on a street corner but in an opening set for The Expendables, with the crowd chanting "U-S-A!" as he took the stage.

If freedom and justice are America’s defining values, Lane Pittman is America. And for proudly proclaiming his love of country and standing strong against the excesses of the state, he is also a 2015 Washington Free Beacon Man of the Year.