The cowboy: roping another day of honor
It seemed long overdue when last year the U.S. Senate proclaimed July 23 to be the National Day of the American Cowboy.
Fittingly, the senate has again given the cowboy the honor of the day and July 22 celebrations are on calendars all across America.
The resolution again recognizes the cowboy as one “who loves, lives off and depends on the land and its creatures for livelihood.” It also names rodeo as a livelihood of the cowboy that transcends race, sex and spans every generation.
Never has there been a day when making a living as cowboy was more difficult than today.
Recognizing that the pioneering spirit that helped establish the American West continues to be a foundation of solid character and commons sense, the day of honor is earned.
The resolution calls the cowboy an American icon, part of America’s commitment to an esteemed and enduring code of conduct. The wonder and awe of that icon spans continents and still today, sparks big dreams in small boys.
While honored to be honored, the cowboy himself won’t be impacted by his name on a resolution. He will go on about his day of work perhaps even slightly embarrassed there is such a fuss about the whole thing.
As far as being an icon, if you ask the average cowboy about it, he’ll say “What’s that?”
I doubt the suits on Wall Street will acknowledge the honor given to the cowboy. He’ll probably order chicken for lunch and continue believe his food comes from the grocery store. The same for the majority of the masses in Boston, New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. Sadly a pretty big chunk of folks in former “cow towns” like Denver and Albuquerque have the same mindset.
Santa Fe is dedicating a day of their annual rodeo in June to the National Day of the Cowboy. The cowboys and cowgirls entered in the Rodeo de Santa Fe will bask in a little extra limelight because of it.
But on July 22, the actual day of honor, most of America’s cowboys will be checking cattle, drinking troughs, fixing pipeline leaks, branding a few late calves, building fence or other assorted less-than-glorious “cowboy” duties.
“Cowboy” has become more than a job, more than way of life. Cycling through the fads of popular genre, it again has found a place at the forefront of marketing genius and saleable themes. Put it in boots and a hat, a little rawhide with the hair still on it, add some silver conchos and a jingle here and there, and you have a collectible of the American West.
Emulated in a thousand ways in a million places, the bottom line to “cowboy” doesn’t come from his wardrobe or even from his occupation. It comes from within his heart and soul.
It is a spirit of honor, integrity and grit that stirs within all men, some just chose to live by those traits. Cowboy is not a hat, a job or genre. It is a choice.
The cowboy is not the dying breed he is said to be by those that drive down the highway looking for him.
As Lee Marvin told Jack Palance in the 1970 movie “Monte Walsh,” “As long as there is one man on one horse pushing one cow, there will always be cowboys.”
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