This past weekend we visited North Dakota because my son is spending the summer as an intern on a ranch.
It’s been a good summer for him to learn other ways of doing things and seeing a part of the world he might not have otherwise gotten to see. It also gave me and Jennifer a reason to travel to North Dakota and see some country that I had never seen before.
My idea of an ideal vacation is driving the countryside and looking at the agriculture and the landscape, and this trip did not disappoint. I am proud to say that we drove up and back and never once drove a mile of interstate.
I thoroughly enjoyed driving the ranch, seeing the land and cattle Isaac is working with this summer and meeting his bosses and co-workers. It’s nice to have an idea of the places he tells us about when sharing his experiences.
While we were there, we decided to go to a rodeo his boss was bulldogging in. That proved to be the highlight of the trip for me, but maybe not for the reasons you would think.
We were excited to go to the rodeo because all the rodeos around us are canceled — and who doesn’t enjoy a good rodeo?
We got to the rodeo arena on the outskirts of town. A hodgepodge of trucks, trailers, cars and SUVs were parked on the prairie grass — some clean town cars and others that carried the dust and grime of country living. The crowd, too, was a mix of people, different ages, backgrounds and ethnicities. In the air was the smell of rodeo and hamburgers on the grill. I could hear conversations about kids, cows and life in general. I knew a grand total of five people, but I felt very at home.
There was a panoramic view beyond the arena that featured grass as far as you could see and a blue sky with puffy white clouds. In the distance was a field with bales and a tractor and baler parked. A gentle wind stirred the warm air, and the night was starting to cool off.
It had been months since I felt this relaxed and at ease. It was a feeling, a time and place that I wish I could have saved and shared with each of you. That was when I had my moment of peace that I had been seeking for these past couple of months.
The rodeo started with a tribute to a fallen community member — a cowboy, and someone who I had never met. His grandson led the rider-less horse in, all the time looking straight ahead and swallowing hard. Then came a tribute to our service members and emergency service providers. The rodeo queen rode out carrying our flag, and as she made her way around the arena, everyone took their hats off out of respect for the symbol and all it stands for.
Not one person kneeled for the singing of our National Anthem. Everyone focused on the flag waving in the middle of the arena. I suspect many were singing along. It was a simple version, no extra pauses or notes — just the National Anthem.
When the singer finished, there was just a moment of quiet, and the rodeo announcer led us all in a prayer. Again, not one person was disrespectful of the eloquent prayer offered up giving thanks and asking for safety. For one moment, everyone in that crowd was one.
I do not tell this story to make a political statement. In fact, I would say that what I was feeling was anything but political at that very moment. We all respected the flag and the anthem for what they represented. That was a nation made up of many peoples who had held steady, worked for a better tomorrow and persevered through tough times and periods of turmoil.
We have made mistakes along the way, learned from them, and have bettered ourselves because of them. That should be celebrated, not hidden in shame.
We have not always been perfect or gotten everything right, but it was because of the sacrifice made by those of who came before us that we are here and have everything we have. The flag and the anthem symbolize that, and you will not convince me otherwise, nor will you make me want to hide it.
It is easy to watch the news, read things on the internet or listen to the radio and wonder just what our world is coming to. That was where I was before this weekend.
Again, my purpose in sharing this is not to be controversial or political in any manner. I am just sharing my feelings and thoughts. I will never agree with disrespecting our flag or wanting to do away with our National Anthem. In my mind, they are symbols of the journey we have all taken to build this great nation — sacrifices made by people of every ethnicity, economic class, and religious belief. That sacrifice is a reason for reverence and honor. That is what they did, and it did my heart and soul good.