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Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Texas: Happy 169th Birthday! 

"Texas is a state of mind. Texas is an obsession. Above all, Texas is a nation in every sense of the word. And there’s an opening convey of generalities. A Texan outside of Texas is a foreigner."

John Steinbeck, Travels With Charley
Steinbeck's observation still rings true today, as there might not be a citizenry anywhere that can compare to Texans in terms of pride and arrogance. And as we celebrate the 169th anniversary of the Republic of Texas' formation, it's not hard to figure out where generations of Lone Star Staters learned it.

Take, for example, the Texas Declaration of Independence, signed this day in 1836 at tiny Washington-on-the-Brazos:

The necessity of self-preservation, therefore, now decrees our eternal political separation.

We, therefore, the delegates with plenary powers of the people of Texas, in solemn convention assembled, appealing to a candid world for the necessities of our condition, do hereby resolve and declare, that our political connection with the Mexican nation has forever ended, and that the people of Texas do now constitute a free, Sovereign, and independent republic, and are fully invested with all the rights and attributes which properly belong to independent nations; and, conscious of the rectitude of our intentions, we fearlessly and confidently commit the issue to the decision of the Supreme arbiter of the destinies of nations.
"Fearlessly and confidently..."

Texans don't lack confidence. Our travel and safety departments boast memorable slogans like, "Texas, it's a Whole Other Country," and "Don't Mess With Texas." And the flagship of our state's higher education system markets itself with a simple, straightforward phrase: "We're Texas."

Forgive us for our arrogance, though, because we only take after our forefathers, who gave the finger to a tyrranical empire and when it came time to back it up, they never backed down. Many paid the ultimate price, but freedom prevailed.

I would go into what it means to be a Texan, but my friend Bob Wheeler wrote a wonderful essay a few years back that I think captures the essence of Texas (it floats around the 'net mis-attributed to Bum Phillips) and gives a glimpse into the pride that we carry each and every day, but which swells even more on days like today.

So, to all Texans, young and old, native and transplanted, residents and expatriates... Happy Independence Day! God Bless Texas!


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