Since 1976 when I moved to Arizona, I have been a fan of Payson Rodeos -- particularly the "August Doin's." I've missed a handful of fall rodeos, but my enjoyment and support have been continuous for all 29 years. A highlight of each August Rodeo, for me, was when "Dad" Honeycutt, on horseback, opened the events with a very emotional and patriotic statement about our freedoms and the richness of living in this land. I don't take my hat off for much, but my hat always came off when Rodeo was opened by the Honeycutt patriarch.
This year, I was offended by Mr. Honeycutt's son's "prayer." He blatantly politicized during his head-bowed statements of opinion. I do not believe that prayers are to criticize those who disagree. I am particularly offended that naive and wrong statements were made by Honeycutt, during his political narrative, that those who question or wonder at the cause, wisdom, and humanity of our involvement in Iraq are not patriots and, indeed, against the men and women who have been sent there to conduct our president's war.
I much prefer his father's prayers that spoke of our true freedoms and the gift of being Americans.
To be clear, my opinion comes from my Christian beliefs and my experiences during the Vietnam years. I fear we are making similar mistakes -- too many American sacrifices and lives lost for a people who, clearly, are culturally alien to our enforced wants for them. During Vietnam I was a fighting and vocal patriot, and I am a die-hard patriot now -- but I do not agree with the escalating losses of American military men and women's lives that have occurred in Iraq.
I mourn the losses of friends who lived beside me during the Vietnam years, but died there or remain missing in action. I share, with veterans, the psychological horrors and permanent scars carried today, after returning from Vietnam. I, angrily, want to fight terrorism at its roots. I believe in the safety and defense of my home and homeland, and that I have fought for, and I will fight any who threaten, endanger, or wound my land, friends, and family.
I am a major fan of the Honeycutt family and its business of contracting for "my" rodeo. As examples of American and cowboy spirit, our contractors are second-to-no-others. God willing, their involvement will continue into many future rodeos--without self-centered political statements claimed to be prayers.
William E. (Will) Eldridge, Payson