Today being our last guest post for the National Day of the Cowboy, I had to save this Cowboy, for the end. J.R. Sanders is not only a western author, but he is one of many that are tied in deep in efforts to get Congress to recognize the National Day of the Cowboy throughout the United States. J.R. also hosts a Read em’ Cowboy event, which is geared towards the children. Children’s authors will do readings and other activities with kids, and a cowboy/cowgirl costume contest for the youngsters. Along with the authors, there is live cowboy music, rodeo queens, an art display, living historians, roping demonstration, raffles, cowboy vittles in the B&N cafe, and more. Below a youngster participates in this wonderful event.
Thank you J.R. for all of the hard work that you put into the National Day of the Cowboy, and the American Heritage of the American Cowboy. Welcome.
There’s no other cultural or historical symbol as uniquely American as the cowboy. In fact, if the U.S.A. could have only one symbol with which to define itself, there’s probably nothing that would represent us better. All the things the cowboy stands for – freedom, independence, honor, hard work, pride, loyalty, patriotism – are all things that our country also stands for – or ought to, anyway. So it makes perfect sense that there should be a day officially set aside to encourage every American to recognize and pay tribute to a vital part of our national heritage and identity. To me, the question’s not really “Why should there be a National Day of the Cowboy?”; it’s “Why hasn’t there been one all along?” (I mean, there’s a National Pie Day, for crying out loud – not that I have anything against pie).
Bethany Braley and the National Day of the Cowboy organization have been working tirelessly for several years now to get the day recognized permanently by the Federal government, as well as by individual states, and 2012 has been a landmark year in their efforts. Earlier this year Wyoming became the first state to pass the NDOC resolution in perpetuity. They were followed just last month by – wait for it – California. Eight other states have either passed one-year resolutions or issued proclamations (Texas passed a two-year resolution) naming the fourth Saturday in July the National Day of the Cowboy. Those states are Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri and Texas. NDOC continues its lobbying, with the eventual goal of getting the U.S. Congress to pass a permanent resolution. It’s an uphill battle, but NDOC and its hardy crew of volunteers are a committed bunch.
And ultimately, what NDOC is doing is what we are all doing in various ways – trying to preserve a cherished history and tradition, and a
fans of these various pursuits, we’re all in this battle together. We all support one another’s efforts. If nobody ever read Western books, nobody would write them. If nobody went to Western music events, nobody would play Western music. If nobody watched Western movies and TV shows, nobody would produce them. Yet people do read Westerns, and so people write them. People do go to cowboy concerts, and buy CDs, and there are some fine Western performers carrying on their rich musical tradition. No matter how many times Hollywood suits, or book publishers, have proclaimed the death of the Western, the Western refuses to ride into the sunset. There’s a pretty simple and clear message in that. There’s something in the American makeup that strongly identifies, even in this ultra-modern high-tech age, with our Western heritage, and those core values that it represents. That’s what keeps the writers writing and the readers reading. It’s why we do what we do, and why we love it so.
J. R. Sanders is a native of Newton, Kansas, one of the original “wild and wooly” cowtowns. His deep interest in Old West history dates back to childhood visits with his family to the Dalton Gang hideout, Abilene, and Dodge City. J.R. has written feature articles for a variety of publications, among them Law & Order and Wild West. His children’s book, The Littlest Wrangler, was released by Moonlight Mesa Associates in June, 2010, and has been adopted for use in the educational programs at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. His next book, Some Gave All: Forgotten Old West Lawmen Who Died with Their Boots On, is due to be published by Moonlight Mesa Associates in 2013.
J.R. is a member of the Western Writers of America, Western Fictioneers and the Wild West History Association. He lives in Southern California with his wife, Rose, and dog, Monte.
To read J.R.’s Book The Littlest Wrangler visit his Website at: www.jrsanders.com