Today marks the 182nd anniversary of the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence on March 2, 1836.
The 187 heroes defending the Alamo against Mexican President Santa Anna died without knowing that Gen. Sam Houston and 58 other revolutionaries had declared Texas independent from Mexico during a log-cabin confab at Washington-on-the-Brazos.
Hipsters and pseudo-intellectuals scoff at the love and allegiance native Texans feel toward the Lone Star State, but it's real. Even Republican dominance over state politics doesn't keep liberal Democrats (who also happen to be native Texans) from loving Texas and its unique culture.
Virginia may have the reel, but we have the two-step. How does one not shed a tear while gazing on a field of bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes?
From the grandeur of Palo Duro Canyon in the Panhandle to the humid borderlands of the Rio Grande Valley, from the rugged Trans-Pecos of far West Texas to the East Texas pine forests, the Texas landscape unfurls its delights in a thousand different ways. Nothing else impresses like a 360-degree sunset dancing across the big sky in a riot of pinks, reds, blues and oranges.
Non-natives have a hard time understanding Texas. In many ways, it's an acquired taste. The telephone poles are often taller than the trees.
The Rocky Mountains, Yosemite or the rugged coast of Maine are easy to appreciate at first glance. The beauty of Texas is more subtle and soulful. Have you passed by a pasture on a sweltering summer afternoon and witnessed 10 cows crowded shoulder-to-shoulder under a lone mesquite tree to escape the sun? Chances are that a pump jack bobbed in the background. That's Texas.
Texas is the only state that once was a nation. After gaining independence from Mexico in 1836, we remained a sovereign country until the end of 1845. We are the only state to enter the union under a treaty.
Even after joining the U.S., Texas could still claim to be the largest state. Non-natives might find it amusing at how depressed we were when Alaska became the 49th state in 1959. It's almost twice the size of Texas.
The Texas state motto is "Friendship." Native Texans have a healthy respect for friends and neighbors. We have a sixth sense about when to offer help or advice and when to mind our own business.
We may not like the color our neighbor painted his barn, but it really ain't any of our business. We may not like your tattoos, but it's your body. Ain't any of our business.
Texas has changed in the 182 years since Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett died at the Alamo. Some people say the real Texas is dead. Dallas looks no different than Cincinnati. Houston and Atlanta could change places and no one would notice. Bureaucrats, Bible-thumpers and busybodies have gained the upper hand.
But the real Texas is still out there. Somewhere, you will still find a good ol' boy in West Texas cruising along a farm-to-market road in his decade-old pickup, cradling a longneck in his lap and listening to Willie Nelson on the Sirius/XM. He may speak Spanish or English. It doesn't matter as long as he loves Texas.
Yes, this is a day to consider what the word "independence" really means. Let's celebrate.