Fourth of July has come and gone, and Westcliffe’s Fourth of July parade sponsored by the Wild West Cowboy Church came off without a hitch. A hitch? Well, there were guns this year, but no guns saw action. Just guessing… maybe only 150 parade participants (half the number who marched last year) carried guns in support of Second Amendment rights.
Some believe that the Second Amendment, the right of individuals to keep and bear arms, is under threat. Yes, Tea Party adherents have every right to protest, but a Fourth of July Independence Day parade should be a family affair, not a political rally. Perhaps they could find another time and place to voice their concerns.
I find it curious that as Custer County strives to increase tourism, “branding” is not a bigger issue. Yes, we have towering mountains, a lush valley, more cattle than people, and a thriving cultural scene, but young children, guns slung over their shoulders and marching down Main Street, is not a brand that we want to promote.
Hillary Clinton is not everyone’s cup of tea, but since stepping down as Secretary of State (2009-2013), she has commented on how her service in that capacity opened her eyes to how the United States is perceived on the international stage. Foreigners think we are gun-crazed.
Heaven forbid that any foreigners read the July 3rd Wet Mountain Tribune. One of the Letters to the Editor was written by Roger Aukema who commented on the Senior Citizen’s Center where a NO GUNS ALLOWED sign is posted. It is hard to imagine anyone taking issue with this sign, but… according to Aukema, some are challenging the rule and “encouraging all gun owners who believe this rule should be lifted to show their support.” Really! And just who is going to take-down a group of Seniors eating their lasagna?
Is it any wonder that foreigners think we are gun-crazed in this country?
I was not amused by the trigger-happy marchers who flashed the three-finger salute. If you haven’t seen the three-finger salute, read on. Visualize shooting a pistol. The extended index finger approximates the barrel; the thumb cocks the hammer; and the middle finger pulls the trigger. All things considered, I found these good-humored marchers with pantomiming fingers, as scary if not scarier than those with actual guns: there is nothing light-hearted about shooting.
The three-finger salute is a call to action, not a call for debate. To my mind, the three-finger salute verges on crossing the line between free and hate speech.
Three cheers for the Community Band for participating. I thank them for putting Community ahead of politics in what has become a polarized event that many groups have decided to boycott. For sheer fun, I loved the Search and Rescue volunteer who played a wounded hiker. Carried on a stretcher, he gave a feeble wave – that of a nearly dead man striving to recognize the crowd. It was great theater: we need to get that man on-stage. And not to forget Paca Peace Ranch and their winsome alpacas. A little civility and a little peace.
We do tend to hang with “our own kind,” but when too many good-hearted people boycott the Fourth of July because of the militant nature of the parade, something is wrong. As Emily Dickinson wrote: The soul selects her own society, / then shuts the door; / on her divine majority / obtrude no more. / Unmoved, she notes the chariot’s pausing / at her low gate; / unmoved, an emperor is kneeling / upon her mat. / I’ve know her from an ample nation / choose one; / then close the valves of her attention / like stone.
Anger and militancy lead to deafness… deafness “like stone.” All this head-butting does a disservice to the true goodness of our community. No one seems to talk about our leading the state of Colorado in per capita volunteerism. That’s the story we should highlight.