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Grand Sams: Buncombe County patriotic power couple's book was sparked by sadness of 9/11

Uncle Sam, Aunt Samantha and Scooter, the all-American dog. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

For a patriotic power couple, the Fourth of July weekend is a time to shine. Their love for all things USA has become a source of identity all over the mountains.

Gene and Bobbie Carnell, of Ridgecrest, also known as Uncle Sam and Aunt Samantha, have written a children's book they've been working on since 9/11. The book "Symbols of Freedom" is available at Town Hardware & General Store in Black Mountain.

"Hi, welcome to Freedom House," Uncle Sam greeted us.

They couple's home is a testament to what red, white and blue can do for you.

"I like red, white and blue!" said Sam. "Walk down the street, it's kind of hard to ignore us."

The Carnells celebrate like it's 1776 every day.

Gene and Bobbie say sparks flew in 1951, long before they became Sam and Samantha with an all-American dog named Scooter.

"I asked her to marry me on the Fourth of July, as a matter of fact, on the beach in Daytona," Uncle Sam said. "Made the fireworks."

Almost 25 years ago, Sam became his source of identity. Then, on the day after the 9/11 attacks, his wife found a role.

"Aunt Samantha was really born," Bobbie said. "It's not a hobby, it's a calling for us."

Ever since, they've been regulars at parades and other Independence Day venues.

"You have to be bold to wear something like this in some places," Gene said, wearing full Uncle Sam regalia.

Their passion project began 16 years ago when our nation was in mourning. "Symbols of Freedom" is the first of a series of books. It's sort of an A to Z of U.S. history.

"United we stand and divided we fall," Uncle Sam read. "In other words, good will and love bring peace. Selfishness and anger cause us all pain."

They hope an old-fashioned book instills timeless values.

"I'm tired of using their thumbs and fingers on this device," she said, referring to phones and tablets. "And there's something wonderful about holding a book in their hands."

The fantastic Sams think their cover story is a family bonding experience that can bridge the generation gap.

"Spend some time talking to their grandparents asking them questions," Uncle Sam suggests.

At a divisive time in our country, they hope we never lose track of the freedom we have in common.

"Gives us a chance to tell folks who's side we're on and what America's all about," said Gene, who's dual identity helps drive home an important message.

"My motto is you never get old if you keep trying something new," he said.

Maybe it's part of the American Dream at the home they call the Freedom House.

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