Saddle up--storms a brewin'
By Trent Loos
Do you know what national day of celebration took place on the last Saturday of July and has been taking place for the past 8 years?
Odds are that you may not and as the people I interviewed said, “That is pretty sad that people don’t know.” I agree.
Last Thursday I was driving through Columbus, Neb., and needing to find a guest for a radio program. With the National Day of the American Cowboy only two days away, it hit me. I should go to the parking lot of the grocery store and randomly ask as many people as I can in 13 minutes if they know what celebration is coming up on Saturday.
Assuming that nobody would know the answer to that question, I got to thinking that the story would be even better if I actually did it from the Fort Western store in town. People who already have an interest in cowboying should know, right?
First off, I want to thank the Fort Western store for agreeing to let me walk around the store and visit with six of your customers and one employee. Not one of those seven folks had any idea that there was a day of celebration designated to the American cowboy, let alone that it was coming up in two days.
Interestingly enough, I received a photo on Saturday from a friend of mine from my favorite destination in the nation—Medora, N.D. The North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame did have a day of celebration but the first line on this poster outside the hall certainly captured my attention:
“The American cowboy has become a mythical figure in the national consciousness.”
At first when I read that I thought it was ridiculous. “Mythical” is something like Greek gods—not cowboys because they are real. But as you read the rest of the sign you must agree that most Americans today correlate the American cowboy with some movie actor and don’t understand how important the cowboy was in shaping our nation in its time of need.
In the history of our country, we can say the image of the American cowboy was created in the very short 14 years period of the cattle drive era. What tends to be the secret is what those cowboys actually accomplished in that time.
It started in 1865, the year the Civil War ended. The vast number of cattle roaming the Plains of Texas were needed to provide resources to the East coast that had been ravaged by war. It was the sheer grit and determination of the cowboys to brave rivers, weather, stampedes and an occasional Indian raid that really re-united our nation.
Strangely enough, although we don’t have the destruction of the land, one could make a strong argument that our nation is once again in a civil war. A war that does not have the same effect of destruction on personal property but quite obviously restricts its use in benefitting mankind.
Our house is divided. From where I stand, it looks like the people closest to the land versus the people who only hear about how the land should be cared for. I remind you that the original cowboys are very adept at using the available resources and certainly understood the environment around them. They had no artificial protection such as a house or indoor plumbing. They simply dug deep into their core being and made it work. Consequently, we refer to it in the phrase “Cowboy Up.”
I really have no time for “we are a minority” these days. Let me remind you of another of the great American cowboys. Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Roosevelt distinguished himself by acts of bravery on July 1, 1898, near Santiago de Cuba, Republic of Cuba, while leading a daring charge up San Juan Hill. With only five men defining bravery and courage without regard for personal safety, Roosevelt took a chance and it shaped the future of our nation.
Instead of allowing the elite to control our great country, we need a handful of real cowboys, who are willing to follow the spirit that resides within them, to charge the hill and shape the future of our nation so that it is truly the “United States of America” once again. Are you willing to saddle up?
Editor’s note: Trent Loos is a sixth generation United States farmer, host of the daily radio show, Loos Tales, and founder of Faces of Agriculture, a non-profit organization putting the human element back into the production of food. Get more information at www.FacesOfAg.com, or email Trent at email@example.com.