Proud to be an American
Damphewmore Acres, Kan.
I’m writing this column on a gloomy, soggy, rainy morning in the Kansas Flint Hills on the date our cherished nation declared independence from the tyranny of Great Britain — the Fourth of July. I’m in a reflective patriotic mood.
I’m proud of this nation because it’s become the beacon of freedom in a world filled with nations that are not so free. Is the U.S.A. flawless? Nope, not by a long shot. Does it address its flaws? Yes, over the long-haul it does. The huge blight of the nation’s past — slavery — is gone. Today’s descendants of those in slavery are in the main making really significant social and economic progress. That’s good news.
If the U.S.A. is not a nation to be proud of, tell me why average, common folks from all over the globe try both legally and illegally to enter our nation and become citizens? Many face hardships, even death, to become free and live their lives in the “pursuit of happiness” in the land of personal opportunity. They aren’t enduring those hardships to enter a bad nation. They do it to enter what they know is a good nation.
And, yet, I read just this week about a Gallup Poll showing that pride in our nation is on a significant downturn in recent years — with fewer than 50 percent of our citizens really proud to be an American. That lack of national pride is reflected in not standing at attention for The Star Spangled Banner, not saying the pledge of allegiance, and not saluting Old Glory every time she unfurls proudly before us.
Nike, a huge corporation, withdrew sneaker shoes from the market that were emblazoned with the nation’s original flag sewn by Betsy Ross. Why? Because a defunct and unpatriotic NFL football player objected. A town council in Minnesota decided it was not politically correct to pledge allegiance to our flag. The citizens of the town rightly called the council persons out for their unpatriotic imprudence.
Our constitutional republic (not democracy) of United States of America is still the beacon of hope for the world and a legislative and political blueprint for oppressed and downtrodden people around the globe.
To me, being a proud American citizen is both an honor and a duty. I wish everyone felt the same way.
Agriculture, the beef bizness and the sport of rodeo lost one of its great ones last week. Gene Peacock — a Chase County and Flint Hills laconic legend, aggie raconteur, practical joker, philanthropist, and all-around good guy — went to the Great Rodeo in the Sky of natural causes at 91.
I won’t go into great detail about Peacock’s life and achievements, except to say he told me several true stories about cowboying, ranching, and cattle buying that were classics that I retold in this column. He was a first-class practical joker.
However, last week, I heard about a “Peacock-ism” that I’d not heard before. Here is is: Years ago, Peacock was on the board of the Flint Hills Rodeo and a public spokesman for the great, annual event. The Kiwanis Club in Emporia requested that Chase County Extension agent, my good buddy ol’ Avery Ware, and Peacock attend a noon meeting at the Emporia Country Club to talk about the rodeo.
So, they went to the meeting and that day Peacock was wearing a foam neck brace, which he said eased some chronic neck pain resulting from early-day rodeoing injuries. When it was Gene’s time to tout the rodeo, he recounted his early participation in the rough stock events there — in which he honed his rodeoing skills to national recognition levels. He even casually mentioned that the neck brace he wuz wearing was from participating in the bull riding event. He told the Kiwanis that he’d broken his neck three times sparring too many times with the ill-tempered rodeo Brahman bulls.
At that point, the lady Kiwanis who wuz in charge of the program that day, rather wide-eyed asked Peacock, “So, you really did break your neck three times riding bulls?”
To which Peacock, in his typical slow drawl, dryly replied, with a sly grin, “No, ma’ma. I broke my neck three times falling off bucking bulls.”
That story pretty well sums up why Peacock was a one-of-a-kind fellow. His generation of genuine cattlemen and cowboys is very rapidly disappearing from our lives — and we all are the poorer for their leaving.
Been awhile since I reported on ol’ Giant Clawsway, the Thoroughbred colt in which I have a 10% racing interest. I can report that he’s training at the Lone Star track near Fort Worth. Plans are to ship him in a couple of weeks to participate in his first competitive race at the Remington track in Oklahoma City — hopefully sometime in mid-August..
If the colt keeps training well and makes it to the track, all us folks with an interest in him are gonna have a big ol’ party in OKC, regardless of how the colt performs. Ain’t every day in my advancing age that I can participate in something I ain’t never done before. I’ll keep you informed.
Hope you had a great patriotic party of your own during the Fourth of July holiday.
Until next week, remember these patriotic words of wisdom from John Thune: “I believe our flag is more than just cloth and ink. It is a universally recognized symbol that stands for liberty, and freedom. It is the history of our nation, and it’s marked by the blood of those who died defending it.” ❖