They were everywhere, those Texas Cowboy Hats, that law enforcement enjoys in the culture there.
Strutting around in Cowboy hats, many carrying guns, often hoping someone would take their photo. In Uvalde, in Houston, San Antonio, Austin a lot of people wearing them. Even at the huge "Gun Show" lots of those cowboy hats on heads for show. I used to take pleasure in those hats, pointing to a Western Heritage of bravery and common sense, of compassion and willingness to die to protect the innocent. Not now. Not after Uvalde.
Some there were local police...some wore hats because they like the "Cowboy look", some wanted to be like the famous "Texas Rangers" who all seemed to wear those big white hats.
When I saw what seemed like a hundred "Western Cowboy Hats" and bold looking men wearing police badges, cowboy hats, and Texas Ranger Uniforms, pistols on their belts, enhanced by stars or badges. I thought...those little kids, those scared children are in good hands. At least the men in the white hats would protect them. I suppose I was mistaking those hatted guys in Uvalde with a John Wayne image from a movie. These folds were nothing like John Wayne.
When I heard the Governor of Texas, and Senator Ted Cruz sit before cameras (a long drive away) and present "calm disposition" (our Texas Rangers, and police have those kids safe), and then pass the blame for so many shootings in Texas and around the nation on something other than guns. I thought, "Well this is a bit "Red Neck" but at least those kids are going to be alright."
But then something caught my attention. I heard a man, a parent, who had been standing outside the school for over an hour, yell at those "Cowboys with guns and badges",
("IF YOU ARE NOT GOING TO GO IN AND GET MY CHILD, I WILL GO IN FOR YOU").
That caught my attention. I thought: "Those kids were still trapped in a room with an insane killer, and nothing had been done for over an hour?" I wondered, "With all of those cowboy hats, badges, and guns on their belts.... they are carrying guns, and the children are still trapped in there with a killer?"
(Only later to learn that some of the adults "in charge" with badges and guns, had been hunkered down at the door of the classroom, for an hour, apparently afraid to go in and kill the crazy with a gun.)
I heard that in Houston, Donald Trump spoke the next day, and awkwardly read the names of the kids who were killed. We note he didn't travel to Uvalde to comfort those parents. Probably the airport wasn't capable of his big luxury jet. I noticed that Senator Ted Crus spoke about why guns were ok and we didn't need to tighten gun control laws. But he and Trump seemed more interested in the publicity before that crowd, than those dead kids, or their grieving parents.
They were everywhere. Those Texas Ranger Cowboy style hats. In Uvalde, in Houston, San Antonio, Austin. I used to take pleasure in those hats, pointing to a Western Heritage of bravery and common sense, of compassion and willingness to die to project the innocent.
And in far off Washington DC, the 50 Senate Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell (Senate Minority Leader of the Republicans) let the nation know that nothing would change in DC. Those 50 Republicans were not going to vote to increase gun control or improve gun laws. Echoes of "Guns don't kill people, people do...." or some nonsense like that.
Hat, badge and gun. Former symbols of bravery. Now......??? I don't know what to think...not after all those kids killed with dozens, hundreds of "hats with badges" standing around outside.
So, the collection of Cowboy Hats that I have inherited and worn for a lifetime...I don't think I will wear them anymore. And when I see a Texas Law enforcement officer wearing his "macho" cowboy hat and uniform, I can't keep from remembering, the cowards that hunkered on the schoolhouse floor afraid to charge in and take that insane killer down, to protect our kids. Sitting on the floor for an hour...listening to kids dying. I suspect a few of those brave men in Uvalde, wet their pants while they sat on the floor, listening to kids getting murdered on the other side of the door...they seem to me and millions of people to have waited an hour to open the door and face the killer, out of cowardice, or out of bravery? You decide. Finally someone else, came in and did it for them. No, I don't think I will be proud to wear a "dress western" hat to remind me of Uvalde's men in hats for a long time.
When I see them on the streets and in public, I will feel shame that these "Were the Best of Texas"..."The Governor's finest" as everyone one of them will in my view carry a stain of blood for innocent children. Those heartbroken parents, brothers and sisters in Uvalde, no doubt their attitudes will be changed forever.
And the Governor, posturing in a a news conference in front of cameras, hundreds of miles away....telling us how brave Texans had taken care of those kids, while the same day of that press conference they were bragging at, before the press, little children had been murdered because those "Texas Cowboy Hats, local police and Texas Rangers" held back, for what? Was it fear, or cowardice, or were they hunkered there out of courage? Can't really judge but it sure looks bad...for brave Texans. No I won't be wearing my Stetson for a while. The thought of my disgraceful fellow Texans (Cowboys without at cow, but with a big hat) but they do have guns and big cowboy hats, does not bring good feelings, like John Wayne once did.
As a nation let us do something to save our kids in schools, and innocent people in churches, families in movie theaters and people minding their own business, who seem to be open "game" for crazies or angry troubled people who can so easily get guns and ammunition, in the USA. The angels of those kids, who were just killed are watching. Can Americans bring some order and sanity to our nation on guns, killers and crazies. Perhaps we might even someday bring back the dignity of our men and women who need to be brave....for us all. When that happens, I may again put on my Grandpa's Stetson.