Plans are falling into place for the 50th anniversary of graduation for my high school’s senior class in New Mexico.
Fifty years! If that doesn’t convince you that you’re getting up in years, nothing else will.
In past months, several classmates have reconnected, mostly through emails and Facebook posts, and one of them who landed in Arizona posted a lengthy document this week with remarkable information about Texas. And to ensure that his Facebook friends who landed in the Lone Star State saw it, he tagged it with our names.
Perhaps you’ve seen it. It lists a large number of Texas cities with unusual names, and categorizes them under headings like foods (Turkey and Orange), international cities (Paris and Athens), just plain funny sounding ones (Cut n Shoot and Ding Dong), outer space (Mars and Venus), and even cold (nearby Blanket and Winters).
That was followed with several funny Jeff Foxworthy observations about Texas, numerous important facts that even longtime Texans may not have known, and a “Texanized” adaptation of the Ten Commandments.
If my Arizona friend knew his Facebook post was timely because Texas Independence Day is today, March 2, he certainly didn’t mention it. The day is not something that’s recognized much outside our borders. That’s OK, because even many Texans need reminders.
Maybe it’s because Texans don’t wait for a special observance to celebrate their state. That’s happening every day of the year. Our pride is an eternal mindset.
At a church gathering recently, a minister living in the Panhandle became philosophical after enjoying his complimentary breakfast in the hotel lobby that featured waffles in the shape of Texas. What other state can do that? And if another state tried, how many could be recognized after waffles were put on your plate? Not so many. Online, I found an ironsmith who at one time, for a small fortune, would custom-make a waffle iron in the shape of Wisconsin. Now, that item had been discontinued.
The Texas mystique began long before its rank as our largest state was topped by Alaska in 1959, and it continues today. As a child in North Carolina, I thought Texas was just another state on the map until a girl moved into our neighborhood who had lived in San Antonio. She was proud she had lived in Texas, and the image of this place known as God’s Country took root in my mind.
A few years later, my father learned he would be transferred to White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico. Mom and Dad at first thought we would relocate to El Paso, but a smaller city across the state line beckoned. Otherwise, I would have become a transplanted Texan three years earlier than I actually did. As they say, I got here as soon as I could.
Having a separate Declaration of Independence and Independence Day are two reasons for Texans to feel special. What’s even more compelling is, a decade after independence, the Republic of Texas became the only state to join the union through a treaty of annexation.
As a footnote, Brownwood residents will recall that the Rev. Noah T. Byars, who owned the building in Washington-on-the-Brazos where the declaration was signed, is buried in Greenleaf Cemetery. He also organized numerous Baptist churches, including First Baptist, Brownwood in 1876.
Americans are proud of their legacy, and rightfully so. Today, Texans double-down on that pride.
Gene Deason is editor emeritus of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Fridays. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.