Love of Country Ingrained…

Hey, it’s Ruthy here, and I love being part of Stars & Spurs week here at the hoppin-est Western group of cowboy-lovin’ gals there is…

What is it about Western images and culture and determination that makes us think of flag and country?

Well, it could be that flag flyin’ high at ranches all across the West/Midwest.

Or those small town celebrations that make us remove our hats, put a hand over our hearts and feel a prayer even if not one cotton-pickin’ word comes out of our mouths.

Or it could be at the graveside of a young man, the sharp knife of a short life, gone too soon in defense of his country. According to Wikipedia, over 80,000 soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen/women never plowed another field or husked another ear of corn following World War II, the Korean conflict and the Viet Nam War…

From some of the least-populated states came tens of thousands of Homeland Heroes.

From the “fly-over” states came the sound– and the cost– of freedom.

The sound of “Taps” being played on that single horn.

Bagpipes toning the tear-jerking chords of “Amazing Grace”

And the sight of a cowboy, on horseback, hunting that last calf as the sun dips down behind him.

The reminder of Christ and that shepherd we all love so much, leaving the 99 safe and sound to go after the one lost sheep.

When I think of Stars and Stripes and Spurs, that’s what comes to mind.

That in an amazing country that had been so divided 85 years before, shedding the blood of so many in a Civil War that tore us apart and bound us together, so many stood strong in the face of international terror when faced with the scourge of Hilter and Mussolini and Stalin, heartless men whose selfishness and greed dictated the loss of millions…

The image of a cowboy, standing guard at the gate or delivering a calf or a lamb or rocking his own baby floods our hearts with the goodness of the American West. This thought-provoking photo comes from Priscilla Du Preez over at Unsplash.

Because in the West it doesn’t matter how tall you are…

But how tall you stand.

And may God bless America….

Tobias Keller, Unsplash

Ruthy is giving away two copies of her newest Love Inspired Western “Healing the Cowboy’s Heart” to a couple of lucky cowgirls or boys but you’ve got to carry on the conversation below because when it comes to faith, hope and love, the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom stands strong, doesn’t it? And don’t get your knickers in a twist if you haven’t gotten your books from last month… you know our Ruthy lives on a farm and the grumpy farmer has been fighting rain, rain, and more rain so every little job doesn’t get done once… or twice… but three, four or five times. But they know they’re blessed to have jobs and lives beyond the farm, so there’s no lamentation… just a time-drain, folks. And one of these days our Ruthy will get to the Post Office and send out the last few weeks of books…. Sure as shootin’! 

Feel free to shout out the folks you know who have served… they have blessed every one of us by that sacrifice of time and safety!

 

 

Cowboys and Fireworks, Yee Haw!

July, that wonderful month where we get to celebrate our country’s independence. The Fourth of July is a fun time for both young and old alike. But did you know that the 4th Saturday of July is National Day of the Cowboy? Yep! That’s right. It’s the day we celebrate the contribution cowboys and cowgirls made to our country’s wonderful heritage.

  Do you know when the era of the cowboy came about? It was after The War Between the States and was birthed in the heart of Texas. Of course, folks had been herding cattle for years beforehand, but in Texas ranchers allowed their cattle to roam free. Unfortunately, over time, they grew wild and unruly.

As the country recovered from the aftermath of the war and life moved on and more and more folks moved west, the demand for beef grew. This meant all those cows had to be rounded up. Cowboys drove large herds to market across miles of prairie and other terrains. About five million head were driven to wherever the most profitable markets were which in turn, created a lot of stories of the Cowboys’ adventures and untold riches. Well, sort of. Adventures probably outweighed the riches most of the time.

But over the years a certain romanticism developed around the cowboy. Part of what made them what they are today. We celebrate the hard work it took to gain our independence in July, but also the hard work of the cowboy that helped shape our country later on.

Can you imagine being a cowboy driving thousands of cattle across the great plains? Can you imagine the dangers the cowboys had to keep an eye out for? Sudden storms, rough terrain, predators, cattle rustlers. Violence was ripe at times and the cowboy had to protect his herd however he could. Cowboys had to be tough to endure the frontier life. For them, that meant a lot of time outdoors, sleeping under the stars. Cowboys worked hard, Period. A working cowboy still does. As some of you know, my little sister is a retired racehorse jockey and now trains horses. This means she knows other trainers from all over, some of which are working cowboys and ranchers who do their horse clinics on the side. Sure they have modern conveniences, but the work is still just that. Work.

So the next time you read a western, think of all the guts and grit it took to do the job of a cowboy. This is one of the reasons we like westerns. Western romance, even better. After all, there’s nothing quite like reading about a cowboy that comes to the rescue to save the day and gets the girl.

             

 

Celebrate July Fourth and have a ball. Come the 4th Saturday in July, which this year is July 27th, think of the hard-working cowboy that helped shape this great country, smile a little smile, and say a little thank you.

Dressing for Independence Day (plus a giveaway)

Nothing puts me in a patriotic frame of mind more than seeing bunting proudly displayed on homes and businesses. In fact, I recently took a trip to Honey Grove, TX, the setting for my most recent release, More Than Words Can Say, and I saw this house.

Not only was this a gorgeous Victorian-era home restored to its former glory, but it was a patriotic home as well. It was only the middle of June, but they already had their bunting on display for all to appreciate and enjoy. I knew I had to take a photo because a key turning point in my story centers around a 4th of July Parade in Honey Grove.

Abigail and her sister Rosalind have decorated their bakery with red-white-and-blue bunting and paper festooning in keeping with the holiday festivities, but in addition to decorating their portion of the town square, they decide to decorate themselves as well. Rosalind (a young beauty) has been chosen at the very last minute to be Honey Grove’s Queen Bee and is to be featured in the parade. Despite the late notice, Rosalind agrees to participate so that she can promote the bakery by handing out honey-glazed biscuits to parade goers. Thankfully, Rosalind is handy with a needle.

Here’s a scene from our hero’s point of view. Like most men, Zach has grown impatient waiting on his wife and her sister to appear . . .

The door opened. Zach spun around at the sound of the hinges.

“It’s about t—” The complaint died on his tongue as his wife stepped through the doorway. She’d abandoned her work apron and changed her dark blue shirtwaist for a white lacy confection with a pleated front that highlighted her abundant curves. She’d tied a red sash around her waist that set off her blue skirt with patriotic flair and had somehow folded a scrap of leftover paper festooning from the shop’s decorations into a circle thing that looked remarkably like a flower. It sat pinned it to her blouse like a brooch. Not only that, but she’d magically woven red ribbon through the braid on her head, a ribbon he was certain hadn’t been there when they’d been working side-by-side that morning.

I imagine Abigail and her sister dressed a bit like this. Abby with a red ribbon at her waist and a patriotic paper flower brooch. Rosalind in a fancier white dress with leftover red-white-and-blue bunting draped over her hips and bustled at the back.

“Isn’t she stunning?” Abigail asked as she turned her face away from him.

She? He only saw Abigail.

However, when Abigail gestured behind her, Zach finally noticed Rosalind stepping into the hall. She didn’t make his heart pound like Abby did, but he had to admit she was a right fine looking female. They must have taken curling tongs to her hair, for it hung in blonde ringlets down her nape in a way that reminded him of the fancy women in New York who used to bring donation baskets to the orphanage at Christmas.

Her clothes were much fancier than her sister’s, too. All white and frilly. She’d taken some of the bunting fabric and fashioned an overskirt that draped down her front and pulled up into a big bow at the back. She wore a straw hat decorated with more of those red, white, and blue paper flower things.

For someone who’d known for less than twenty-four hours that she was going to be the star attraction of the Fourth of July parade, she’d done an impressive job of improvising a patriotic ensemble that would no doubt put Sophia Longfellow to shame.

Abigail shot him a look that felt remarkably like a kick to the shin. Obviously, she expected him to say something. And not to her.

He smiled at Rosie. “I’ve never seen a prettier Lady Liberty.”

Abby beamed at him, making him stand a little taller since he’d somehow managed not to stick his foot in his mouth. Then she took her sister’s hand. “You’re beautiful, Rosalind. No one deserves the title of Honey Grove’s Queen Bee more than you.”

Abigail and Rosalind might not have been dressed quite like the lady on this vintage Victorian postcard, but they were creative in using what they had to create festive and patriotic ensembles.

I don’t have too many patriotic ensembles myself, but when the time is right I have been know to pair red, white, and blue items from my closet in new and interesting ways.

What is your favorite way to decorate either your home or yourself for the 4th of July?

Leave a comment to be entered for a chance to win an autographed copy of More Than Words Can Say and see what disaster befalls Abigail during that fateful parade.

Warning! Tim McGraw will make you cry.

For those of you who lived through the Vietnam War, you’ll remember the violence and discontent from our country’s involvement.  As crazy as it sounds, many Americans blamed our soldiers for being there, and their suffering and the terrible things they witnessed made no difference to those back home.  The soldiers were shunned and rebuked upon their return to US soil.  They were made to be the enemy when they were, in truth, fighting to help keep us all free, something everyone should have appreciated more than they did.

Nowadays, thankfully, the tide has turned, and the men and women in our military are honored and revered, as they should be.  Patriotism is surging.  The flag once again flies with respect.  Who can keep a dry eye while watching a news clip of a soldier dad returning home to surprise his child?

One of the ways to show our patriotism is through songs and videos.  Yesterday, my sister-filly, Cheryl Pierson, wrote an excellent blog with many examples of patriotic songs, and our readers loved chiming in.

Funny how great minds think alike.

Tim McGraw is one of my top three country singers, and I’m sharing his popular video for “If You’re Reading This.”

During our Special Event week celebrating patriotism, please enjoy.  And be sure to grab a Kleenex.

THE TOP ‘MOST PATRIOTIC’ COUNTRY SONGS–WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE? by CHERYL PIERSON

 

Summer seems like the most patriotic time of the year in general, doesn’t it? We kick off the summer months with Memorial Day in May. Poppies are worn in remembrance of veterans on Memorial Day and on Veterans Day in November.

On June 6, we are reminded of the sacrifices made on a faraway beach in Normandy that resulted in many deaths in WWII, but turned the tide for the Allies and helped us gain victory. June 14th is Flag Day, a fine “tune up” for our huge 4th of July celebration that’s right around the corner.

Is anyone more patriotic than a cowboy? I don’t think so!  So many country and western songs have been written through the years that are a tribute to not only our troops, but to first responders, and to all the “regular” American people who love our country.

Here is my list of top country and western patriotic songs, compiled from several on the internet—all different, but all wonderful—and all with one thing in common: our love for our country. These are in no particular order. I don’t know how anyone could choose one over the other since they all are products of excellent songwriting and musicianship—and heartfelt sentiments about America! And goodness knows, I didn’t list them all here—no room! Like I said, there are a lot of patriots in the country music field, and a huge number of songs to listen to in order to get in the patriotic spirit of things! I’ve included the youtube links in case you want to pop over and give these a listen!

This first one is an odd one, but I just love it. It was recorded by David Ball, who didn’t have that many hits, but this one will stay in your memory when you hear it for the very first time. I get chills every single time I hear it.  A young man buys a ’66 Corvette and discovers a letter in the glove box “My name is Private Andrew Malone, and if you’re reading this I didn’t make it home…” Which always makes me think about so many young men who could have written this following line…“For every dream that’s shattered, another one comes true…”  It’s called RIDING WITH PRIVATE MALONE and it has a very twisty ending you’re sure to love!

 

https://youtu.be/v5dyHPX8Cos

 

Probably the most recognized country song that many call our “unofficial” American anthem was written and performed by Lee GreenwoodGOD BLESS THE U.S.A. Written in 1983, it’s become synonymous with patriotism, and is loved by countless Americans, whether they are typical country and western fans or not. Its simple message is one that grabs you and holds on, and I have to admit, that even after nearly 40 years of hearing it, I still get teary! “I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free, and I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me—so I’ll gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today, for there ain’t no doubt I love this land—God Bless the U.S.A.!”

 

https://youtu.be/yH61hFsma24

 

Another “oldie but goodie” is Merle Haggard’s THE FIGHTIN’ SIDE OF ME, written in 1970. Oh, goodness. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard my husband play and sing that back when we used to have our band…fond memories, and it was a song that was a frequent request, whether we lived in West Virginia or here in Oklahoma. “If you don’t love it, leave it, let this song that I’m singin’ be a warnin’—when you’re runnin’ down my country, hoss, you’re walkin’ on the fightin’ side of me…” I love the sentiment of this song. In true “Merle” fashion, he’s saying that we can disagree on things without trashing our country. I think everyone in the audiences we played to knew the words to this song!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIxBmyRQlwQ

 

WHERE WERE YOU WHEN THE WORLD STOPPED TURNING? is not a “patriotic” song in the way we’d normally think of one, but it was not written during normal times. Penned by Alan Jackson in 2002 after the horrific events of  9/11/01, this song is packed with emotion and validates the many thoughts and feelings that Americans went through during the aftermath of that day. Each chorus of this song ends with the reminder that God’s greatest gift to us is love—even though we were going through some horrendous times. This song was nothing short of a masterpiece that drew Americans together, gave us hope, and let us know we were not alone in our feelings.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNsfx_4k-JA

 

In 1974, Johnny Cash wrote RAGGED OLD FLAG, a recitation about all the incidents that happened to “the ragged old flag” that hangs in a little town’s courthouse square as told to a town newcomer by one of the old men who lives there. “She’s been through the fire before, and she can take a whole lot more…on second thought, I guess I do like to brag, cause I’m mighty proud of that ragged old flag!”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KqrjeScLSI

8TH OF NOVEMBER, another patriotic song written about the Vietnam war, is performed by Big and Rich. It is the true story of a terrible battle in which the 173rd Airborne was engaged. That day, 48 Americans died with very few survivors when they were ambushed by 1200 Viet Cong. “With the fire rainin’ down and the hell all around there were few men left standin’ that day…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozpdBvB0hek

 

 

 

There are countless others, in case you want to put together a country and western playlist for your big Independence Day shindig! Take a look!

SOME GAVE ALL by Billy Ray Cyrus

LETTERS FROM HOME by John Michael Montgomery

HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN? by Darryl Worley

IF YOU’RE READING THIS by Tim McGraw

HOME by Dierks Bentley

I DRIVE YOUR TRUCK by Lee Brice

FOR YOU by Keith Urban

IT’S AMERICA by Rodney Atkins

FLYOVER STATES by Jason Aldean

COURTESY OF THE RED, WHITE, AND BLUE (THE ANGRY AMERICAN) by Toby Keith

WHERE THE STARS AND STRIPES AND THE EAGLE FLY by Aaron Tippin

AMERICAN SOLDIER by Toby Keith

THE BALLAD OF IRA HAYES by Johnny Cash

This isn’t all of them, either! Hope you all have a very happy 4th of July with family, friends, and loved ones. What’s your favorite country and western patriotic song, and why? It’s hard to pick just one!  

Janet Syas Nitsick Has a Winner!

Wow! Thank you for bringing such an interesting blog, Miss Janet. We loved it!

Now I know you’re all dying to see who wins a copy of the book.

All the names are in the ten gallon hat……….

The winner is…..drumroll ………..

ROXANNA GILPIN

Woo-Hoo! I’m so happy for you, Roxanna! 

Miss Janet will contact you for be watching for her email!

And everyone, don’t forget to come back tomorrow to kick off the Stripes and Spurs week!

 

We Never Sleep–The Pinkerton Detective Agency

“With shelves of books behind him, Clyde David Robert III settled in his library chair  … he grabbed the rolled up paper [inside his desk] from the Pinkerton Detective Agency.

“Spreading out the gold sheet, he examined it once more along with the agency’s guarantee of finding his daughter. The document was dated March 21, 1896. Where was she? How could his daughter have escaped without detection?”

-An excerpt from Janet Syas Nitsick’s recent release, The Heiress Comes to Town.

          Slipping out of her father’s New York mansion on her wedding day, Nina Robert . . . leaves her luxurious life to settle on the Plains where she discovers romance, but all could end with her father’s hiring of the Pinkerton Detective Agency to find her and enable him to fulfill his arranged marriage contract.

The Pinkerton Detective Agency

Motto: We Never Sleep

Formation and Prominence

          The private-eye detective business began with the formation of the Pinkerton Detective Agency by Allan Pinkerton in 1850.

          But they did not become famous until credited with foiling a plot to assassinate President-elect Abraham Lincoln, as he was to take the reins of his first term.  

          How did the Pinkerton Agency claim to do this? With the help of the first female detective hire, Kate Warne, a widow, this woman and other agents arranged for President-elect Lincoln to board an overnight train hours before he was publicly scheduled to appear.

Abraham Lincoln posed as Warne’s invalid brother, and agency’s operatives cut telegraph lines, so Southern sympathizers could not communicate with one another.

The Civil War

          The detective agency continued to make its mark during the Civil War with its enemy spy rings of Southern sympathizers in the North. The operation did not always go well.

          One such misstep was in the 1862s during the Peninsula Campaign when spy intelligent agents reported Confederate forces around Richmond were more than twice as large as their actual number.

          The result was General George B. McClellan delayed the Union’s advance in part due to his request for more troops. But the intelligence was wrong since McClellan’s Army of the Potomac was in fact much bigger than the Confederates.

Wild West Bounty Hunters

          The Reno Gang

          The Pinkerton Agency often was employed to chase after Wild West bandits, which began with the Reno gang of John and Simeon Reno holding up an Ohio and Mississippi railroad train in Jackson County Indiana. What was different about their holdup?

           A booty of $13,000 and no detection since they committed their crime on a moving train – the first such type train robbery – while traveling in a sparsely populated area. However, the Pinkerton agents often get their man, and they did the same to the Reno gang by infiltrating it.

          Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch

          Remember Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch? Well, the Pinkerton detectives chased after them, too.

          Jesse James and his Gang: A Pinkerton Failure

          The pursuit of bank robbers, Jesse and Frank James, by the Pinkerton agents started in the 1870s.

          One detective attempted to infiltrate the Missouri-based gang but was exposed and then murdered. Then two more agents died in a shootout.

           If this was not bad enough, the hunt for the James brothers ended in 1876 during a raid on his mother’s home. The famous brothers had been tipped off and had left the premises.

          The Pinkertons questioned James’ mother. An argument pursued. During the standoff, a posse member tossed an incendiary device through a window, which blew off part of her arm and killed James’ 8-year-old half brother.

          Journalists portrayed the Pinkerton agents as murderers. Humiliated by their depiction of his detectives and the public outrage, Allen Pinkerton stopped pursuing the James gang. Thus Jesse James was able to continue his havoc for seven more years until 1882 when an assassin’s bullet killed him.         

Larger than the United States Army

          In the 1890s, the agency grew until it had 2,000 detectives and 30,000 reserves. This was larger than the United States Army at the time.

The Agency Exists Today 

It operates today as Pinkerton and is a private security and guard service.

 

*Janet Syas Nitsick is offering a signed paperback copy of The Heiress Comes to Town, a Christian, historical, page-turner mystery and clean romance to one person picked at random from those who leave a comment today.

The Heiress Comes to Town

by Janet Syas Nitsick is on Nook, Kobo, iBooks.

 Click here for the Kindle and paperback link on Amazon:

Janet Syas Nitsick

Shy, natural redhead Janet Syas Nitsick’s writing passion began as a child when she wrote a neighborhood play at 10-years-old. In 2010 Janet’s story, “The Silver Lining,” placed 10th in the Writer’s Digest mainstream/literary competition.

Janet writes suspenseful, clean, Christian, historical, homespun-romantic tales set in Nebraska. She is married and has four sons – two with autism. Her late father, Nebraska State Sen. George Syas, served 26 years in the Unicameral.

Click here to check out Janet’s website, blog or Facebook page.