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Weekly Column: National Day Of The American Cowboy

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

Idaho’s cowboys and cowgirls have a lasting legacy in our great state, where personal responsibility, strength, hard work, integrity and determination are deeply rooted.  Resourceful men and women helped build the Idaho we know today and continue to advance a time-honored tradition of living off the land and sustaining it for future generations.  The Senate honors the men and women who helped establish the American West through an annual resolution designating the National Day of the American Cowboy. 

Fellow Idaho Senator James E. Risch and I joined a bipartisan group of 14 senators in introducing S.Res. 265, which was led by Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming).  The resolution would designate July 27, 2019, as National Day of the American Cowboy and encourage the recognition of the ongoing contributions made by cowboys and cowgirls to their communities.  The resolution recognizes both the pioneering men and women who helped establish the American West as “cowboys,” and describes the cowboy archetype as one that “transcends ethnicity, gender, geographic boundaries, and political affiliations.” 

Those honored through the resolution are not only historical figures, but also present day Americans who embody “honesty, integrity, courage, compassion, respect, a strong work ethic, and patriotism.”  The resolution recognizes that “the cowboy continues to be an important part of the economy through the work of many thousands of ranchers across the United States who contribute to the economic well-being of every State.” 

The values the resolution promotes have been recounted in different variations of the “Code of the West” or the “Cowboy’s Code of Ethics,” guidelines for how to live honorably and treat others.  However, author James P. Owen boiled these rules of the West down to 10 straightforward principles in his book “Cowboy Ethics”:

“1) Live each day with courage

2) Take pride in your work

3) Always finish what you start

4) Do what has to be done

5) Be tough, but fair

6) When you make a promise, keep it

7) Ride for the brand

8) Talk less and say more

9) Remember that some things aren’t for sale

10) Know where to draw the line”

Recognizing the important role of the American cowboy and cowgirl honors the many who live this code and are examples of the determination and values at the core of our great state.   

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