A morale boost for demoralized conservative political junkies
As each day's news headlines seem more bizarre and negative, it's nice to take a break, ignore the woke zombies, and focus on the positive.
A great way to do that is to spend a weekend in America. The real America. A great place to do that is at the Rodeo of the Ozarks in Springdale, Arkansas, or at an event where Allen West speaks.
As big-time professional sports give way to the leftists, the rodeo stands firm against the trends. And what's more American than a name like Rodeo of the Ozarks?
It's an unseasonably cool June Friday night at Springdale's Parson's Stadium for the annual event. The crowd is enthusiastic; COVID canceled last year's rodeo. And except for a few people who appear to have health problems and one stadium employee who has pulled his down below his nose, I see no one wearing a mask. The announcer points out that there are no masks in sight, and there's a lusty cheer from the crowd.
The announcer also determinedly says that there will be public prayer before the event. His words and the tone in his voice signal that the rodeo will never compromise on this issue. We will pray. A local minister comes to the mic and, given the dangers of what is to take place, he prays for safety for the contestants.
Then there is honoring of the American flag. There are flags on the rooftops of the stadium. Riders on horses carry flags. A more than 90-year-old Korean War veteran leads a salute. No one takes a knee. This is, after all, America, and its people honor the symbol of their great nation.
The rodeo is pure entertainment. Protected by helmets, children ride sheep in "mutton busting," all the cowgirls are beautiful, the crowd is serious as one cowboy suffers some injury, the clowns reflect keen knowledge of animal psychology — and perhaps it's my imagination, but I think I detect pride in the ear movements of a horse after stylishly working to throw its rider. It's as though the horse knows who should be the real star of the show.
The night after the rodeo, in nearby Rogers, Arkansas, there's a Republican fundraising dinner featuring retired lieutenant colonel Allen West, former congressman and chair of the Texas Republican Party. Following prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance, a violin soloist plays the National Anthem. Initially, just the instrumental music fills the convention center, but as the tune continues, attendees standing by their tables begin to sing. And as the violinist moves along, the voices grow louder. It's beautiful, the People embracing their anthem.
After dinner, West speaks. He's a fireball, and the political event takes on some of the tone of a revival meeting. He tells Republicans to celebrate their legacy as the party that was founded to defeat slavery. He gets several standing ovations. West tells of the opportunity America gave him as a black man to advance in the Army and of his sobering experiences viewing the communist oppression of East Germany. The East Germany of his past is now in America, West says, and Republicans need to take a stand against it. There can be no middle of the road. "My dad, a World War Two corporal, said the only thing in the middle of the road is roadkill."
Following West's speech, the violinist again plays; this time, it's "God Bless America." One doesn't hear the song much anymore, and I don't recall the last time I sang it. But as the crowd joins in to sing, I realize the words remain deep in our souls, and again beautiful music fills the room.
This is what the joyless left seeks to destroy. Our traditions, our national memory, the patriotism in our hearts, whether expressed in the context of bull riding or a political fundraiser.
There are a lot of crazy things going on. It's wearying. Occasionally in the skirmish, it's nice to take a bit of a break.
Sometimes it's nice to just kick back and remember who we are. We can do that by spending a weekend in America.
Writing from Northwest Arkansas, retired business professor Mike Landry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image via Needpix.
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