The Cowboy Way
Thanks to Elmer Kelton for the story on cowboys [“True Grit,” July 2008]. It is sad that some pundits have used an honorable name and profession to mislabel some of our political leaders. I consider it sadder that some of our political leaders would adopt the outward manifestations of a cowboy—the jeans, the boots, the language and “tough” attitude—in order to present themselves to the world as honorable workingmen when they are no such thing. I understand, though. Some of these same people put on the same masquerade when they falsely adopt and abuse another honorable title: “Texan.”
“Cowboy” is an earned title for those few but great men who have had the honor to know horses and cattle from the top of a saddle. You don’t accidentally turn out to be a cowboy. It is a profession given by God to those who he knows will appreciate it most. Thanks for giving a moment of your magazine to the faceless hundreds of hardworking men who really are cowboys.
If anybody knows the heart and soul of the Texas cowboy, it is Elmer Kelton. Mr. Kelton certainly has both feet firmly planted on the Texas ground. And while he won’t claim for himself the title of a Texas cowboy, it’s nonetheless safe to say he understands Texas cowboys inside and out. There’ll never be another like him. You can bet your boots on that!
Man of War
Matt Cook’s account of Iraq and himself reads of absolute truth, with a style as wonderfully lean and affecting as any reporting I have read [“Soldier,” July 2008].
Dubya, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Rove should be made to read this piece once a day, every day, for the rest of their lives.
As a fortysomething middle-class female living in New York State, I do not have much exposure to the life of a soldier on active duty, only to reports of statistical losses that are broadcast in the news media. Sergeant Cook’s story was sobering. To know the details of some of his experiences and read his candid thoughts gives me a newfound appreciation for those who serve. It’s made me pause and feel heartfelt thankfulness for the sacrifices our soldiers make and admiration for their perseverance. Thank you for the gift.
Troy, New York
For a person who wants to know so little about Cormac McCarthy, Don Graham has put a tremendous amount of effort into finding everything he can on the author [“Please Go Away,” July 2008]. He doesn’t mind watching a five-hour Oscar telecast if it means he can bicker about a single three-second clip of the old man four months later in Texas Monthly. Then there is the Oprah interview, which he probably watched on YouTube fifty times (it’s hard getting past Oprah’s dumb questions, isn’t it, Don?). This new media is having powerful effects on the old-timers. It makes McCarthy lots of money, and it makes Don Graham really strung out. It’s sad, yet still, that what’s wrong with Don is wrong all the way through him. There is nothing new about that.
I was thinking earlier that what this war needs is a Hunter S. Thompson to kick us all in the ass. After reading “Mission Impossible” [Behind the Lines, July 2008], I changed my mind. Your piece is head and shoulders above anything he could have written.
I was dismayed to open up the current issue and see the Editor’s Letter, as well as William Broyles’s article, “Mission Impossible.” They both read like talking points from the Democratic National Committee. What happened to “fair and balanced”?
Mr. Broyles, your editorial was the best summary of this whole misbegotten war I have yet seen. I’ve been sending it to a lot of people, thereby generating quite a bit of yelling (indicating that some learning may be taking place). We desperately need civic-minded people like you for the hard times ahead, and I’m afraid that we are disillusioning, maiming, and killing them at such a rate that we will be left wanting when (if) this war is over. Keep up the good work.
Yes, lives and limbs have been lost. I have no doubt that post-traumatic stress disorder is widespread. But this is the inevitable result of war, which has been fought all over the globe since the dawn of recorded history. It is a natural law, and it will not change anytime soon. Mr. Broyles, with his family’s history of military service, should know this. The death, destruction, and disillusion are all part of it. He should know this also. No matter how much damage you or your family has endured, whining is just unacceptable. It diminishes the bravery and devotion of the troops.
Thank you for so eloquently—no, so simply—putting into words how important it is for us to remove ourselves from Iraq and celebrate the only good thing that is coming out of the war: the men and women in uniform.
David W. Cornell
I am 77 years old and female. I can think of nothing I have ever read that I would be prouder of than William Broyles’s “Mission Impossible.” I am cutting it out to put in my diary, where I hope it will be read by anyone who loved me so they will know how I felt. Thank you.
I have nothing against Kinky Friedman. I even drove across Houston to sign a petition to get his name on the ballot for governor. I am, however, beginning to think he will do anything to make a buck [“The Cable Guy,” July 2008]. I mean, really, on a show with Bill O’Reilly? How desperate is he? I think it’s time to make his parents proud and go home to Kerrville and take care of stray animals.