Stands filling up, quickly. The ‘pump up’ music playing. A bronc starts dancing in the chute. Fresh arena dirt and fresh livestock.
The excitement is felt, seen and heard. An electricity that is circulating throughout the stock, contestants, and spectators. And then, the announcer begins to speak…
He doesn’t begin by giving the statistics of the riders, or rant about the stock contractors, no. The announcer begins with “This is the home of the free and the land of the brave and because of that we want to honor those who give up their freedom so we can enjoy ours. Every Marine, Sailor, Airman, First responder, please stand up.” Some slower than others, stand. Stand in remembrance of their fellow men and women, stand in remembrance of the commitment they made to this country. Stand to be honored. And as each one stands up, the electricity of the building, changes, ever so slightly, as everyone, begins clapping.
Then, the announcer says “Now, would everyone stand as we honor Old Glory.”
And as Old Glory enters the arena, astride a horse the words are said “Before we honor Old Glory and all she stands for, we would like to give thanks and send a layer of protection over everyone tonight. Now, I know that this country is a home of the freedom of religion, and here in rodeo, we do not care who you give worship to or where your place of worship is. There is no judgment to who you call lord. But as for me, and our rodeo, we would like to send up a prayer to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, so would everyone please bow their heads and go to the Lord in prayer with me.”
And just like that, every head was bowed, and every eye was closed.
That is the funny thing about rodeo, no matter if you are a contestant or a spectator, you, for that one performance, night or weekend, become apart of the rodeo family. No matter what religion you are, what country you are from, or what political views you have, all are united in that same place, under the same prayer to the Lord God, and under the same ideas that this country is the Home of the Free and the Land of the Brave because of the many men and women who sacrifice their life to allow that to happen.
The rodeo way is unique, regardless if it is a PRCA sanctioned event or a WRCA event; every single one of them begins by honoring the men and women who served, that glorious red, white and blue flag, and finally, God. Old Glory sits astride a horse, the animal that is so valued in the rodeo world.
It isn’t to be a part of a show, it a simple reminder, mostly, to the rodeo contestants, the stock contractors, the men and women who put on the event, that without our Military personnel and the Lord, they wouldn’t get to do what they love each and every day.
But it is also a reminder to all of us, that no matter where we sit, or our background, that you can celebrate, even just one night, that we are all blessed in this life, and that every day isn’t always promised.
We all become one, with an arena of dirt in front of us, an electricity circulating through us, and the start of a night of adrenaline, pure talent, and raw power…
that is The Rodeo Way.