Texas and pride. Those two words go together like steak and chili. Or rice and refried beans. But what exactly gives Texas that sense of pride? And more importantly, how does that play into being an American?
That was one of the things we set out to discover in San Antonio-home of the Alamo. Surrounded on all four sides by hotels, souvenir shops, and a Ripley’s Believe It or Not, the Alamo is the symbol for Texas pride.
In 1836, 162 Texans stood tall against Santa Anna’s Mexican army. They held down the Alamo for 13 days, fighting only for pride. They could have fled. Instead, they chose to die for Texas.
“Remember the Alamo” became the battle cry as Texas defeated Mexico and claimed their independence.
Of course, it’s important to remember that’s the story the Alamo tells us. It doesn’t mention how several Texans were possibly killed on the grounds outside the Alamo-running for their lives. And they don’t say anything about how slavery was a central issue in the conflict between abolitionist Mexico and slave-heavy Texas.
(We’ve seen several other glaring omissions on this trip as well-the lack of any Lewinski reference at the Clinton Library, and no details on Elvis’ death at Graceland.)
Regardless, the idealistic Alamo is huge in shaping Texas culture and pride. After talking to locals, many people pointed to culture and history as the reasoning behind their Texas-sized mentality. But one young man gave a particularly interesting answer.
Rashina talked to a proud Texan who explained to her that being a Texan is no different than being an American. The mentality is not Texas vs. America, he said, but rather Texas working as an extension of America.
This mentality is displayed no clearer than in the Texas state flag. The red, white, and blue theme is evident and prominent, but is also accompanied by a star-a lone star.
So, perhaps the Texas flag is not a symbol of cockiness and self-centeredness but rather a descriptive picture of the relationship Texas has with being American.
In the afternoon, we met up with former Belmont employee and Texas resident Matt Burchett who used a great analogy to describe states and their “reputations.” He said that states are all like a group of high school students-they each have different false identities and fronts that they like to play up.
For Texas, that identity is a big confident tough guy. He probably walks around in big boots, with his chest puffed out. He loves the thought of being independent and pretends not to need his parents.
But at heart, he still loves and needs them.