Stephen Woody

Good morning, Montrose.

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Butter Side Up……Free Concert Number Two of the Montrose Music Series 2019 is Friday night, July 5, at the Black Canyon Golf Course. Mason Lively of Inez, Texas headlines. His bona fides? Well, he’s played at Gruene Hall, for starters. That’s the best dance hall in Texas, fersure. You can keep your Billy Bob’s (Fort Worth). Gruene Hall (pronounced green) is the real deal. It’s located in the Gruene Historic District, New Braunfels, Texas, and was built in 1878. All of the top C&W talent has played there and Lively, 21, is a rising star. The concert starts at 6 p.m. D&G Railroad will open.

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A nation of immigrants……Tomorrow’s the Fourth, and we typically celebrate all things American. Like taking the oath of citizenship. Now and then, I check in with pal Ana Mostaccero. She lives in Denver. Miss Ana was the public affairs director for Montrose County for two-plus years and during that time, she became a naturalized U.S. citizen, on June 30, 2007. Born and raised in Lima, Peru, she earned an MBA in marketing from Boston University, studying in Brussels, before relocating to Montrose. Before taking a citizenship oath, she had to bring forth extensive police documentation from where she lived, health and vaccination records and passing comprehensive English and citizenship tests. She had a perfect score on her citizenship test. “Those of us who have had to earn our citizenship appreciate it more,” she said, when asked about the test and why so many U.S.-born citizens do poorly on it. She’s lived and worked in Europe and South America. “I don’t think younger citizens appreciate the freedoms we have, particularly women of color,” she added. She also had to pay the government $1,200 in fees to become a citizen. The process took about 18 months. One memory we always laugh about: she was once referred to as the “pushy Mexican woman who works at the county.” I’ve always admired her moxie. The last time she was over here, Ana attended a birthday party in 2016 for a mutual friend, Jim Kitchell, a well-known local philanthropist and former Emmy-winning producer for NBC and CNN. He passed away a few days later. After leaving Montrose, she worked in public relations for Boulder County, then with the Regional Transportation District (RTD) of Denver. Today, she works in public affairs for CDOT and has her own business specializing in bi-lingual communications. She’s also a certified Zumba instructor, too. She and her Zumba group pop up now and then at a Denver Nuggets game to keep the atmosphere lively during timeouts and halftime…….My forebears booked passage on a boat from Kent, England, via the South (which many still consider a foreign country) then to Oklahoma and Texas. We made the best of this American opportunity. So did a “pushy” woman from Peru…….

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Born on the Fourth of July……Americans believe democracy isn’t only a birthright, but a copyright as well. Ours had been around a long time, since 1789. Switzerland’s a runner-up, its self-rule dating to 1798. Americans for good reason believe we invented a government for the people, by the people. Citizens of other countries have long been willing to go any distance, reach any sacrifice, to immigrate to these shores. Whether it’s the Irish of the 19th century, the boat people from Cuba or Haiti in the late 20th, or what’s happening now along our southern border. They put their very lives at stake.

Perhaps the other 364 days of the year are remindful of what ails us – caustic bipartisanship, ongoing “isms” (race, sexuality, gender, tribal). Yet, once a year, we get together and celebrate things that are distinctly American:

• The Bill of Rights. A free press.

• Four constitutional amendments related to voting.

• Jazz. Rock. Country and western. Rhythm and blues. Hip hop.

• American authors: Harper Lee, Ayn Rand, Reynolds Price, Elizabeth Gilbert, John Grisham, Barbara Tuchman, Larry McMurtry, Pat Conroy.

• Turkey and all the trimmings on Thanksgiving, another great American day.

• National Public Radio. Networks and cable TV.

• PC or Apple, Coke or Pepsi. Convenience stores.

• American songwriters: Willie Nelson, Cole Porter, Bob Dylan, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Carole King, John Philip Sousa, Bruce Springsteen.

• American filmmakers: Sidney Lumet, Ken Burns, Spike Lee, Steven Spielberg, Michael Moore.

• American universities, public and private.

• A noisy Oregon surf at night, water nibbling at one’s feet on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

• Passionate debate between William F. Buckley and Ira Glassman; statesmen and warriors like John McCain and George H.W. Bush.

• Denim jeans, overnight delivery. Olathe Sweet, sweet corn. Independent book stores, like Maggie’s Books on Montrose’s Main Street.

• Air conditioning, the rumble of a Harley, soft toilet tissue. A 911 operator.

• Battlefields like Gettysburg, Little Big Horn; 58 national parks including “our” Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

• Knowing that President Jimmy Carter still builds houses for Habitat for Humanity.

• American men and women overseas and stateside, in uniform.

• Diverse opinion – letter writers to the MDP like Holly Von Helms and Bob Strong; columnists like Kathleen Parker and Eugene Robinson.

• Newspapers – lots of ‘em – like the MDP, the Gunnison Country Times, the Black Hills (Spearfish, S.D.) Pioneer, the Sheridan (Wyo.) Press, the Delta County Independent.

• The flying of Old Glory.

Happy Birthday, America!

Stephen Woody was the publisher of community daily newspapers for 38 years in four cities, including the Montrose Daily Press, 1997-2011.

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