Yes. July 25th, 2020, is indeed the 16th Annual National Day of the Cowboy!
We started off our cowboy year last August, with the amazing support of the Pro Bull Riders organization, which not only hosted a fundraising sweepstakes for us, but also facilitated generous donations from some of their sponsors, such as Ariat, the MGM Grand Hotel, and Pendleton Whisky. Thank you! The PBR also made it possible for us to hold a face-to-face working board meeting in Virginia, the first time our current board had been able to meet each other in person.
During our board meeting we discussed our shared desire to grow our Read em Cowboy initiative in 2020, as well as our hope to create an inspiring flag video from the many photos you have sent us over the years of your National Day of the Cowboy flag flying. We were gratified to have Sean Gleason, CEO of the PBR, stop in during the afternoon and talk with us about his personal vision for helping us ensure that we get the remaining 35 states on board with the NDOC bill.
We did end July, 2019, with fifteen states having passed our bill into law. Those states, in order of passage, are WY, CA, NM, AZ, OK, OR, MS, KS, VA, TX, ID, IN, AR, ND, and MT. Sad to say that the current pandemic hit before we could enlist any new states this year. We had high hopes for Missouri when Representative Warren Love introduced our bill very early in the Missouri legislative session, but it did not move forward in the senate. Hoping things will improve in 2021, I will be working on Missouri again and we now have volunteers Easton Colvin and Kraig Sundberg, already working on Nevada, as well as volunteer Francine Ganguzza, working in New Jersey. If your state is not on the list of passage, and you’d like to help get it passed, please let me know. I will send you the draft text for the bill and information about how best to approach it and make it happen.
We did complete our beautiful flag video just yesterday. It was produced for us by Jason Cupp (aka Worldcupp Productions). I’m so glad we were able to upload it to YouTube in time for Saturday, because I know so many of you will not be able to participate in any kind of gathering. We hope you’ll enjoy watching it as a reflection of the many people and organizations who have supported and celebrated this effort since we began in 2005. Please give it a thumbs up if you like it and also consider sharing it far and wide.
Although Jim Harrison created a fabulous piece of art for our 2020 NDOC Hatch Show Print, Hatch has remained closed since early March so there will not be a 2020 commemorative poster at this time.
We also elected to forego our annual Cowboy Keeper Awards due to the many logistics in the awards process. If you want to send a nomination for a 2021 Cowboy Keeper, please remember to do that next spring.
Many annual NDOC events have had to be cancelled, but there are still a few taking place, especially in places where the outdoors can be part of the gathering. Volunteer Erika Royal has been working to keep our events calendar as up to date as possible, but she does recommend you check with any listed event you might want to attend before going. Keep in mind, no celebration is too small, and, if you’re flying your National Day of the Cowboy flag, we’d still like to have a photo of it and your comments about how you recognize the Cowboy Day.
We have not encouraged any Read em Cowboy Circles this year since the pandemic struck, but we know what a great project it is and we intend to keep working on growing it next year. By that time, we’ll have a newly designed author’s bandana to give to all the young people who participate. A few days ago, we received our first permission from an author, H. Alan Day, to include his name on it. We’ll be contacting many other authors and poets soon, with the same request.
We want to acknowledge the sad truth that there are many, many, empty saddles this year. We know too that some people are struggling emotionally, physically, financially, and spiritually. Our hope is 2021 will bring some normalcy and peace back to our lives, so we’re focused on the possibilities we’d like to see come about.
We still need your support to keep this effort moving forward. Consider making a donation if you feel able or becoming a supporting member, or purchasing one of our promotional products, including the NDOC flag.
Under these circumstances, it doesn’t seem right to use the word, ‘celebrate,’ as I’ve always done, so I’ll simply encourage you to honor the cowboys and cowgirls of the past and the present, in a way that works best for you. Thank you all for your continued support and encouragement over these many years.
Please stay safe. See you all down the trail.