National Day of the Cowboy is observed annually on the fourth Saturday in July.
The era of the cowboy began after the Civil War in the heart of Texas. Cattle were herded long before this time, but in Texas, they grew wild and unchecked. As the country expanded, the demand for beef in the northern territories and states increased. With nearly 5 million head of cattle, cowboys moved the herds on long drives to where the profits were.
The draw of riches and adventure mixed with tales of violence and a backdrop of the Great Plains gave way to the mythological image of the cowboy.
Where the dust settles reveals much of the stoic truth of the American cowboy and cowgirl. The life of a cowboy required a particular ability to live in a frontier world. To do so requires respect, loyalty and a willingness to work hard.
In the words of the former President Bush, “We celebrate the Cowboy as a symbol of the grand history of the American West. The Cowboy’s love of the land and love of the country are examples for all Americans.”
HOW TO OBSERVE
Celebrate with a cowboy you know and post on social media using #NationalDayOfTheCowboy. Enjoy a western novel or movie, attend a rodeo and embrace the cowboy way of life.
According to the National Day of the Cowboy Organization, this day “…is a day set aside to celebrate the contributions of the Cowboy and Cowgirl to America’s culture and heritage.” The NDOC continuously pursues national recognition of National Day of the Cowboy. Currently, 11 states recognize this day. The first celebration was in 2005.
I’m celebrating National Day of the Cowboy by posting photos of real cowboys. Most of the men below are past champions in bull riding or calf roping– Hey, wait! Is that Sam Elliott?
Reminiscent of the work of Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich, an astonishing collection of intimate wartime testimonies and poetic fragments from a cross-section of Syrians whose lives have been transformed by revolution, war, and flight.
Against the backdrop of the wave of demonstrations known as the Arab Spring, in 2011 hundreds of thousands of Syrians took to the streets demanding freedom, democracy, and human rights. The government’s ferocious response and the refusal of the demonstrators to back down sparked a brutal civil war that over the past five years has escalated into the worst humanitarian catastrophe of our times.
Yet despite all the reporting, the video, and the wrenching photography, the stories of ordinary Syrians remain unheard, while the stories told about them have been distorted by broad brush dread and political expediency. This fierce and poignant collection changes that. Based on interviews with hundreds of displaced Syrians conducted over four years across the Middle East and Europe, We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled is a breathtaking mosaic of first-hand testimonials from the frontlines. Some of the testimonies are several pages long, eloquent narratives that could stand alone as short stories; others are only a few sentences, poetic and aphoristic. Together, they cohere into an unforgettable chronicle that is not only a testament to the power of storytelling but to the strength of those who face darkness with hope, courage, and moral conviction.
Wendy Pearlman is a professor and award-winning teacher at Northwestern University, specializing in Middle East politics. Educated at Harvard, Georgetown, and Brown, Pearlman speaks fluent Arabic and has spent more than twenty years studying and living in the Arab World. She is the author of numerous articles and three books, including Occupied Voices: Stories of Everyday Life from the Second Intifada (Nation Books, 2003) and Violence, Nonviolence, and the Palestinian National Movement (Cambridge University Press, 2011). Her book We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria was recently published by Custom House (an imprint of HarperCollins) in June 2017. She lives in Chicago, Illinois.