Friday, March 02, 2012

A Yankee's Toast to Texas ... 2012

These are thoughts I've addressed before ... but somehow they gained a new relevance for me, a new perspective after Rick Perry - our state's governor - tossed his hat into the ring, seeking the Republican party's nomination for President of the United States. And while that candidacy has long since come and gone, some of its impact still resonates within me. More than once Governor Perry used the states rights (some would say 'secessionist') rhetoric that has endeared him to so many here in the Lone Star State, encouraging that 'Austin versus Washington' or 'Texas versus the rest of you guys' attitude that still has its staunch defenders.

And that's fine ... at least for them. For me, I remain a 'dang Yankee from back-east' ... not much I can do about that. Yet Texas is my home ... the place where I have now spent more years than any of the other states where I have resided these last fifty-some years ... a place where I have enjoyed new and exciting experiences that I had not attempted elsewhere ... and I place I truly love. And while I have a skewered and way-below-average view of it all, I still celebrate Texas independence and I honor the ideals that inspired it, and those who made it possible. And THAT's something Rick Perry will NEVER be able to take from me.

“To Texas . . .
Joyous and sparkling,
Evergreen when it rains,
enduring in drought,
Timeless, endless in boundaries, exciting,
Home to the adventurous of yesterday and today,
With shrines from the past, and space and spirit for the future.
To Texas.
Everlasting in the hearts of your people!”

I've told this story before ... it was back in the 90s when, as editor of the Fort Stockton Pioneer, I was handed a letter from one of our readers, for publication in the next issue ... a letter admonishing our paper for not devoting adequate space to Texas Independence Day. She may have been DRT (I honestly don't remember for certain), but she was certainly something of a Lone Star zealot ... a perception of mine that was reinforced by her comment as she handed me the letter ... "You probably won't realize the importance of this, not being from around here."

Well, actually, I do, and so do a lot of dang Yankees from back east, such as myself. True, I am someone who - to borrow the old saying - wasn't born in Texas, but got here as fast as I could. And the same could be said for Stephen Austin, William Travis, Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, Mirabeau Lamar and Sam Houston.

Don't get me wrong! I do NOT equate myself with them. But it doesn't hurt to remember that, with the exception of Juan Seguin and his company of Tejanos, there wasn't a 'native Texan' to be found on the Texas side of the revolution.

And the Keystone Stater in me would like to point out that there were an estimated 13 Pennsylvanians defending the walls of the Alamo, and offering up their lives for the revolution and the ideals it represented. And well they should. Because it was something that had been important to them, their parents and their grandparents for more than half-a-century.

Maybe that's what bugged me about the woman's remark ... the fact that, 'not being from around here,' I would be unable to understand what was being decided in the Texas revolution. To my mind, it was something that all free-thinking people know ..... or should know.
You see, it wasn't just men that came to Texas ..... the ideals adopted at Washington on the Brazos had been conceived many years before, in Philadelphia ..... and the determination to defend those ideals in Goliad and Gonzales, San Antonio and San Jacinto, had been inspired - again, many years before - by what took place at Bunker Hill and Valley Forge, Lexington, Concord and Cowpens.

And the material needed to pursue that defense came from all over the United States, from the decision by Alabama to strip its state arsenal of muskets and send them west, to the Twin Sisters -- a pair of canons donated by the 'People of Cincinnati, Ohio' and arriving just in time to blast a hole in the Mexicans' makeshift breastworks at San Jacinto.

And so, I lift my glass, and I will join the toast heard statewide today ... but mine will be a private affair ... and while I may follow closely the words printed near the top of this post, I will deviate on one point, and replace the word 'Texas' with 'America' ... God Bless It!

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