It was a Michigan Western Film Festival. The Celebrities were Jon Locke, Ben Cooper and myself. We signed autographs and sold artwork and tonight was the dinner with all the people that came to the Film Festival. The room was packed and the excitement was high. We were served a great dinner. A man stood up I did not recognize. His name was Jim Barcia. He was an elegantly dressed man and started to read. He was the House of Representatives from Michigan, soon to be Senator.
He was so eloquent with such a commanding voice as he started to read the most wonderful, patriotic essay. It was so beautiful that I wondered what he was doing and really didn't understand what was happening. I had thought to myself, that one day, whoever it was could only wish to be so successful. I don't remember if he left my name out of it... or if I was just oblivious to the surroundings, but when he said my name, I still didn't really understand what was happening. Then he called me up and presented to me this beautiful Congressional Record.
WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was me. As I walked up to receive it, the room erupted with cheers. It was a moment in my life I will never forget.
GOD IS GOOD!
This poem was written by Jeff Hildebrandt. Jeff was a good friend of mine and the Starz Encore Western Channel Producer.
He called and asked me if he could read this cowboy poem he had written. It was just after 911. The nation was devastated. I said, "Jeff I am really not into Cowboy poetry, but because I love you so much... I will listen!"
Jeff said that he had written this and would like me to illustrate the poem. I sat quietly as he began to read. Jeff got to "Let's Roll he said, and Cowboy'd Up."
I didn't need to hear another word and blurted out, "I'm IN! I'm IN!!!
The rest is history. This was in the White House with George W. Bush at a time that
President Bush needed encouragement . The poem and artwork has since been on TV, magazines and seen around the world and across America.
When Jeff called me to illustrate this poem, it was not just any poem, it was America!
It was after 911 and the nation was in turmoil. Everyone seemed to be united and Patriotism was running HIGH!
This was not just another poem, it was OUR statement for the country to keep on!
Jeff Hildebrandt nailed it in Spades!
I had to do it, and it had to be not just good, it had to be GREAT!
It had to be great for America and GOD!
How I started was that each cowboy in the poem had to be "On Guard and Ready to Fight for the Freedom Of America!"
911 was so profound to me that I called my friend, Michael Boguslaski, Channel 2 Newsman, "I'M IN YOUR CORNER BOGIE!"
I said, "Michael I am so heartbroken about 911, New York, I would like you to get me a Press Pass so I could go to New York. I want to be so broken for my country so I can help repair it!" I wanted to see and feel first hand the devastation and be broken. I can't explain it, but I knew I had to go. Michael called and got me the press pass. I made plane reservations to go, which was nearly impossible.
God intervened. Michael was let go from CBS News and I did not go.
This poem from Jeff, had to be what would carry my heart to help.
Each cowboy was ready to fight for America as I was also.
It went to the White House, the inside workings of the people in the White House and I received many calls for others who wanted it for them personally.
I was traveling doing western film festivals, 250,000 miles in 10 years and Cowboy Up America went with me. It is STILL me!
I WILL NEVER FORGET
I WILL NEVER BE HEALED!