I hadn’t been to a rodeo in many years. With the weight of my son’s fight for freedom on my shoulders – it is imperative that I get out to try and relax now and then. A friend of mine, and his very pleasant family, mentioned he was going to the rodeo and I inserted myself into his plans. He most graciously allowed me to do so, knowing the turmoil I am in, and I gladly intruded for a view of some family time. My youngest son is home, and I am collecting lots of hugs and love from him, but am sorely missing my eldest who is my sunshine.

The rodeo is a very old west tradition, steeped in patriotism and community. Something I very much wanted to be around. But at the beginning there is a long speech about family, values, growing good kids and the freedom to do so here in the United States. Home of the free. There is a big horseback procession of riders waving sponsor flags, lots of showmanship. And then the national anthem is sung by a local who’s who.

The crowd raised to their feet as the flag was paraded around the arena and the singer, and audience, belted out how we fought for all the freedoms we own.

And I sat.

I looked straight ahead with purpose. No one was going to think I was sleeping, or not paying attention. I did not wear a smile of disrespect, nor did I cower with shame.

My thoughts were of MY child. The one I put 22 years of blood, sweat and tears into. The one who is the first to help someone in need, especially when something is unjust. The generous one who used to donate his allowance to whatever cause was collecting because ‘they needed it more’. The one I instilled a huge moral compass into – who doesn’t see race, color, sex or age. The one who, when you can get to talk, is open and honest about everything he knows and feels. The naive one who believed that the police are there to HELP us, prosecutors take down the bad guys, lawyers fight for truth and justice, and judges rule with understanding through the laws made to protect the innocent from harm.

The one sitting in Clark County jail convicted of a crime he did not commit. The one begging his mom for help.

And I sat.

There were many stares at me. Some curious, some angry, some concerned. One young man called asked me why. I called him over. He said he had served and it clearly bothered him that I sat through the ceremony. He asked me if it was because of Trump. Good enough reason for some I suppose. But I told him ‘no’, that I wouldn’t sit just because I lost a race – that would be petty and immature. I told him it was private, but that my ancestors established the right for me to choose to sit through the anthem. Indeed I felt the presence and strength of my father next to me, the love of my nephew currently serving in a place so troubled he cannot tell us where, my grandparents and great grandparents who forged this country, and the love of my life who sat for the air force in a nuclear silo with a key. My whole family has served this country. And my whole family is, and would be, ashamed at the United States for what it has done to my son. And to me. And to other innocent victims caught in ‘proactive stings’. Being involved in something this heinous, seeing the government choose to ruin lives for what can only be the players involved’s personal gain of employment, funding, control, changes you. Knowing that if an innocent young man from white suburbia can be targeted for no judicial reason, how many poor, minority, or people without dedicated family have been sucked into this black hole?

I thanked the vet for his service. Told him I appreciated and respected his work. He didn’t look convinced but politely left me alone with my emotions.

And I sat.

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