By Betty Slade
I love Colorado. She’s a grand lady. I was born and raised at her knee in a small rural town on her southern border. She gave me her name, a proud Coloradoan. I married a Texas boy and brought him home to meet her and he fell in love with her. My Sweet Al and I, along with our family, still live in Colorado and call Pagosa Springs our home.
I smile at her rare beauty. I drink the pure water that flows from the heart of her mountains and fills her rivers where rainbow trout swim.
I have climbed her hills, skied her highest mountains, viewed the elk and deer, and camped in her forests. I’ve relaxed in her deepest hot springs and played in her winter snow.
I am proud to call her mine. Friends and family flock to see this lady I love so much. She has loved me back. I have always felt safe in her presence.
I felt blessed to raise my children in her beautiful rural mountain town. They grew up and came back home to raise their children.
Plaid shirt, blue jeans and worn-out farm boots don’t work anymore for the good, wholesome country folk who hold to their moral values. Call it old fashioned, but it helps them sleep at night and holds their families together. A man’s word and a handshake is all they need.
Times are different today and so is our Grand Lady. I began to notice how this beautiful lady changed and lost what her children held dear. Once her natural face reflected inner beauty, sweetness and innocence, but evil crouches at her door and has come in uninvited.
Her beautiful capital building lies in ruins. She fought off the rioters who claimed a right to come into her home, burn and tear it down. They left behind graffiti. Her windows are boarded up to keep her from total ruin. The angry mob told her who she should be. But not who she is. I’ve known her my whole life.
Yes, thousands of strangers have invaded her large cities, flashed a defiant smile, held up their fists and told her they could take what they wanted. They took away her beauty and plastered her face with paint. Wrote obscene words on her skirts, stripped her naked, violated and left her.
She laid for months in shame until well-meaning citizens came to her rescue. They mended up her wounds and rubbed balm on her scars. They patched her torn clothing and washed away the graffiti, which defaced her beauty.
I’ve cried as I wrote letters to her congressmen. I begged to leave a better legacy for her loved ones. She deserved better. I asked clemency and allow her come back home. I blush at the lady she has become because I know who she was and who she can become.
Is it too late for our Grand Lady, Colorado, to turn back to her sweetness and innocence? I hope not. I stand not alone, but with others in our little town, who shake their heads. We want what was lost. We want our state to lift her head again and return to decency, dignity, family values and pureness of heart.
How does one small voice in a southern rural community compete with the collective voices of hate and anger? All I know to do is fall to my knees pray and stand up and say, “She belongs to us. My people were born in her womb and buried in her soil. I love this beautiful lady, Colorado.”