By: Betty Jo Gigot

I don’t think I’ve ever told you folks this, but the reason I love NASCAR is because they march in with the flag, ask God to keep everyone safe and sing along with the Star Spangled Banner. That and I might be a little bit in love with Martin Truex, Jr.

One of my favorite stories through the years was when Dean and I had visitors from Australia, a true “station” family, and took them to the National Western Stock Show in Denver. We went to the afternoon rodeo. By the time the lights came on after the rodeo queen had ridden her horse slowly around the arena under the spotlight while we sang the national anthem, the Australian lady was practically sobbing. “That was one of the most touching things I have ever seen,” she said. I agreed, then and now.

I come from a long line of story tellers and am steeped in the tales of an old New Mexico ranch family who survived some tough times. My grandfather on my father’s side, Pop, loved to tell about meeting Pat Garrett, the man who hunted down Billy the Kid. (Pat was an old man then and Pop was a young one.)

Pop would tell stories about Lincoln County until he had to take his glasses off, wipe them and start all over again. My dad did that too, and I’m not that far away from doing the same. Anyway, the family lore from that side is that three of Grandma’s uncles were hung as horse thieves. My youngest son, Lance, looks just like one of them.

At the age of eight, my dad started herding angora goats on the Mesilla Flats, often all alone with the herd. He told of one night when he heard a snake rattle, so he stayed tight in his bed until morning when he could see where the snake was.

The family joke was, “If Dad isn’t happy with you, stay close.” According to Dad, the way you herd goats is by throwing rocks; he never lost that skill. When the goose chased my brother across the chicken yard one time, Dad wrapped its neck around a survey stake. And you never, ever fed him canned pork and beans or stewed tomatoes because he’d had his fill in camp.

On my mother’s side, there was a great grandfather many times removed who was a hero at the Battle of Kings Mountain. Another served in the Continental Congress. All were proud Southerners and possibly memorialized in one of those statues deemed “offensive” now. Originally, they all were immigrants from Ireland and Scotland, arriving here in time to fight in the Revolutionary War.

The point of all of this, in case you haven’t guessed, is that either the world has gone mad or I have. The rich swath of history passed down through my family, dotted with brilliant patches and dark ones, too, certainly isn’t politically correct, but it’s ultimately part of the evolution of a country and the fabric of time, as I am sure yours was.

In a world where respect for the flag is questioned, the national anthem needs to be scrubbed and pale beige is the color of the day, this proud American will keep telling the stories of a rich inheritance in a blessed country.

This issue is our most important one of the year because we will be passing copies out at the Cattle Industry Convention in Phoenix the end of January. In covering the waterfront of the industry and the segments that make it work, we here at CALF News want you all to know how proud we are to be part of a thriving and productive community.