Frankly Speaking: Let Your Sons Grow up to Be Cowboys!

national-anthemIn an expression of the “cowboy way,” everyone stands at attention during the playing of the national anthem at major Western performance events, like the National Reined Cow Horse Association Snaffle Bit Futurity. • Photo by Stacy Pigott

As all of you probably know by now, thanks to full-blown media coverage, the United States and our national anthem have been purposely disgraced by several players in the National Football League and other professional athletes who refuse to stand during its singing as a way to protest racism in this country.

Now, I know that this is a country in which each of us is free to protest as long as it’s non-violent. We are free to express our opinions as we see fit in order to make a point or champion a cause. Throughout history, there have been many athletes who have used the “spotlight” to bring attention to a cause or inequity in our society. They have also used their celebrity status, along with a great deal of assistance from the media, to stir public sentiment for their disgust in whatever or however our government or certain factions have treated others, mainly minorities or unpopular religions. However, I don’t remember or recall anyone using our country’s national anthem as a forum to bring attention to their ire in the form of protest by not standing when it is played. Even Tommy Smith and John Carlos at least stood while protesting racism in this country at the 1968 Olympics!

I usually don’t get involved with expressing my opinions on religion, politics or race relations in this column. But the actions I have witnessed recently by professional athletes in regard to our country, flag and anthem has got me thinking. We live in a Western culture, one in which we have raised our families and follow the “cowboy way.” I don’t know about you, but I have never, ever seen a cowboy or cowgirl dishonor the United States of America or, for that matter, any other country by not rising to their feet, removing cover and – in the case of America – placing their right hands on their hearts. No matter what or how we cowboys feel about what’s going on in this country, none of us would stoop so low as to bring attention to ourselves or our culture by an act such as sitting or kneeling while “The Star-Spangled Banner” is being sung or played. That fact shows me and bears witness to everyone else who pays attention – our flag and national anthem are “off limits” as a means of protest.

I bring this to your attention because we are products of a culture that includes a set of “unwritten rules” on how we conduct ourselves – our ethics, if you will. We raised our children with these sets of rules, and I know for a fact that we hope our children raise theirs in a like manner, as well. I don’t profess to be better than anyone else and neither do you, you cowboys and cowgirls out there. We feel no pressure to act a certain way. We just live the way we do and embrace the “cowboy way” because we know how privileged we are to live in a free country that affords all of us this lifestyle we hold so dear. Every time we hear our national anthem, it’s just our natural instinct to stand and honor our country and way of life, never thinking that we would ever protest such an event by doing otherwise.

I may disagree with our government or the way minorities are treated, but there are many ways to express my opinion rather than choosing to dishonor our heritage and those who have sacrificed to keep us free by not acknowledging our national anthem. My creed won’t let me sit and ignore what that tune stands for and the history that it celebrates.

I, for one, am proud to be an American, to have been raised by Americans and raised mine to be Americans! Aren’t you proud that our “cowboy culture” is as American as it gets and we have allowed our children to grow up to be cowboys and cowgirls and live in the home of the brave?

As always, I remain