Please Stand and Remove Your Hat…

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I love rodeos.  Something about being there on either side of the chutes that just really gets me going.  The smell, the sounds, hanging out swapping stories with the cowboys and the people who take so much time to organize the events is just about as American as it gets.  I was at a rodeo this weekend and had the opportunity to observe from the announcing booth area which is a great view.  Chatted with the folks there and as the very nice woman prepared to sing the National Anthem, the announcer stated the usual “Ladies and gentleman, please stand and remove your hat for the singing of our National Anthem!”.  I popped to attention (can’t be helped after serving for so many years) and covered my heart with my cowboy hat.  As she progressed through the Anthem, I observed the crowd in the stands and behind the gates from a vantage point I’d never had before.  I was appalled by the sheer number of people who didn’t budge or those who kept their hat on.  The worst part was there were many more behind the chutes than in the stands.  I don’t mean young people who don’t know better, bronc riders prepping their animals, or the guy nearly out of earshot stacking hay bales- I mean all the other people who live and breathe rodeo, ranchers, family members and friends who get the chance to watch the show from the best seats in the house.  Red-blooded American people who should know better!

There are things about this country’s politics and procedures that I may not personally agree with (and also a subject I will steer well clear of), but I also know how good we have it here.  We still have enough surplus that a cowboy can climb on a bull worth thousands of dollars that will never be anyone’s dinner and try to get paid for 8 seconds’ work, for crying out loud.  To me, removing your hat and standing up isn’t just paying homage to a song or a flag or the recently established national budget; it represents showing respect for everything we value and have accomplished, for our friends and family serving here and overseas, and it allows us to take a moment to do this when we may not otherwise.  If drinking your beer or that conversation with someone next to you is that important, maybe you have never served this country, your state, your county or city in any capacity, know anyone who has, or lost a friend in the line of duty.  But you don’t have to.  Because this is America, and you get that choice.  So, if you enjoy that ability, that freedom, to make independent choices like that, maybe the next time you hear the announcer says those words you’ll stop what you’re doing…

…And stand up, remove your hat if you’re wearing one, and cover your heart for 30 seconds.

Wordless Wednesday, Sept 7th, 2011

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