In my town, the Texas First State Bank flies a flag so huge that it’s a landmark. It probably has more square footage than most of the apartments you’ve rented. So when the bank took down that Texas flag and replaced it with Old Glory, we knew it was time to get serious about the Fourth of July. Our family headed on over to the city park for live music, funnel cakes, and fireworks.
Texas is good place to celebrate the Fourth. In Texas you learn to be proud of your school, your state, and your country. There is no one here too cool for a little flag waving on America’s Birthday–or any other day for that matter. Besides, the eyes of Texas are upon you, so don’t be giving less than your best.
When they heard I was moving, lots of people warned me that Texans are mighty proud of being Texans. These people were right. I’ve never seen any place where people decorate their homes with state symbols they way they do in Texas. At the grocery store, you are encouraged to buy products grown or made in the state with a Go Texan! sticker (contrast that with the less boisterous “Virginia’s Finest” or “Maryland’s Best.”) And here you can buy a Texas Edition Silverado, or a Lone Star Ram, whereas I can’t even imagine an Old Dominion F-150 or General Lee SUV.
Still, that famous Texas Pride is not always exactly what you’d expect. The thing about Texas is that Texas—like California—is America, only more so. It’s concentrated not diluted. And while California is America at Play, Texas is America at Work. Texans are not afraid to step up to the plate, to lift heavy objects, to do what needs to be done. Texans are raised to be leaders. The message is “Be proud of Texas and make Texas proud of you.”
Maybe that’s why folks really like it here. 76 percent of the folks born in this “sticky” state are still living here. But, unlike the Californians with their “Welcome to California! Now go home” bumper stickers, Texans will take you in too. As Lyle Lovett says, ” You’re not from Texas, but Texas wants you any way.” When you get a driver’s license, they say you apply to be a Texan. Shoot, Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston were both born in Virginia; they just ended up in a better place.
Texas takes some getting used to. It’s a complicated reality. Not for the shy. As my husband reminds me, Texas looks to the rest of America the way America looks to the world: a little too loud, a little too proud, a little too religious, and just a bit crazy. And most of the people living here wouldn’t trade it for the world.