Like many people, I have an attachment to my home state, despite the fact that I dislike many things about it (including that awful anthem, “Texas My Texas”). Things like its historical puffery, ultra-conservative politics and religiosity, gun culture, flawed educational system, racial and gender bias, and structural disregard for the neediest among us. Yet there are endearing qualities to the state and its people, and I owe Texas its due.
Texas is a beautiful state – large, with grandeur that many other states cannot achieve. From West Texas desert to East Texas piney woods, from Panhandle blizzards to the Valley orchards, with rolling hills and lakes in between. Best of all Texas is filled with Texans, born and borrowed, and they are the best part.
Texans are a friendly, welcoming sort – and helpful. They’ll stop to aid a troubled motorist, join in a search for a lost child, haul and heft for an elder, bring food to the ailing, or pitch in for roundup out in the rural areas. It’s easy to get a smile or a howdy or a handshake.
There is a palpable sense of patriotism and a respect for those who serve in our military. It is a common occurrence for Texans to walk up to a man or woman in uniform or a veteran wearing some insignia (on a hat or jacket for example). They will offer a firm handshake and say “thank you for your service.”
Texans as a whole are a hard-working bunch — responsible, law-abiding, and family-oriented. There is a general regard for the working man or woman – the person who wears dungarees or boots and blue denim shirts, who toils in factories or on the land.
That attitude is likely to have come from our western heritage, where manual labor of various sorts – from ranching and farming to oil exploration – was the steam that built the state (and continues to be of great importance).
There is no stigma to our western bent. Even city folk wear denim and boots outside their corporate lives, embrace their county fair and rodeo, listen to C&W radio, go boot-scooting on weekends or barbecue out back.
There is a high regard for family, and a strong sense of responsibility to grow children who are also hard working, responsible and polite. There are not many places where you’ll still hear young people say “yes ma’am” and “no sir” and scramble to hold open a door or help with a task.
There is a strong intention to do the right thing and while I don’t always agree with my fellow Texans as to what that might be, I do see the spirit and intent. I also see a state that has begun in recent decades to integrate people from many other backgrounds and it is my fervent wish that we end up with a state that keeps the best of our culture and the best of theirs.
— Jonnie Martin