"I'll be as hearty of mind as I am of body. I'll be a straight shooter and a square dealer. My family name will be sacred and my word will be as good as any contract. I'll remember the Alamo. I'll stick by my friends and I'll eat more chicken fried steak."Grams is proud to be a Texan. I was born in the piney woods of east Texas and have lived on the coastal plains of South Texas most of my life.
For a good part of my early life we lived with my granny in a little house that was described as being at the corner of plumb and nearly -- plumb out in the country and nearly in the creek. Now, Grams is a typical suburban housewife.
When you grow up in Texas you learn early about the Texas mystique. Every middle-school student in Texas is required to take a full semester of Texas History. And honestly, I should be embarrassed to tell you that I was an adult before I realized that everyone in the USA doesn't actually study Texas history. Imagine that!
Texas is where Colonel Travis drew a line in the sand before the battle of the Alamo. It's where "Remember Goliad" became the battle cry for freedom after Colonel Fannin and his men were massacred. Once a sovereign nation, Texas entered the union by treaty rather than by annexation. The dome of the Texas Capitol is the only state capitol that is taller than the dome of the United States Capitol.
And Texas is big. How big? In square miles, it's 268,601, second only to Alaska (which is at least partly ice). In population, there are an estimated 24,326,974 Texans, second only to California.
Texas is so big that it has five distinct areas, each very different in ethnicity, culture, topography and climate. It's is the land of charming small towns, quiet back roads and three of the ten largest cities in the USA. There are places in East Texas where you would swear you were in the Old South. Driving across the Panhandle you might think you're in the high plains of Nebraska. And there's no place like the Texas Hill Country, where every Texan loves to go to float the river and get away from it all.
Texas has many more dubious distinctions. We're famous for counties where dead people cast votes in presidential elections. We own more guns than any other state in the union ... two for every man, woman and child. And it's legal to carry a concealed weapon, if you have permit. It's the home of Dealey Plaza where JFK was assassinated as well as the home of the Enron debacle. And, yes, George W. Bush is a Texan.
Texas is home to ranchers, roughnecks, astronauts and scientists. We've got NASA, the Riverwalk, the Dallas Cowboys, the San Antonio Spurs, Galveston and Padre Islands and the old Spanish Missions.
We have world-class medical centers and we lay claim to the best cancer treatment center in the world. Our universities are second to none. Almost one quarter of the oil produced in the U.S.A. comes from Texas.
Everyone knows that the women of Dallas have their own style. And, those ladies down in Kingsville, home of the King Ranch, have a look of their own, too. Texas women are known for their big hair and their big hearts. Western wear is appropriate for Saturday night and Sunday morning. Cowboy boots can be worn by women and men with jeans, dresses or tuxedos.
High school football is our game of choice. There's not a better sports rivalry anywhere than the rivalry between the fighting Texas Aggies of Texas A&M University and the Longhorns of the University of Texas.
And our food is uniquely ours. We have our own kind of barbecue and we don't put beans in our chili. Tex-Mex is our brand of Mexican food. We like our steaks chicken fried. And, oh by the way, we drink our tea sweet with ice ... and we start drinking it when we're still in diapers.
Porch sitting is an art in Texas. There's nothing better than sitting on your porch watching a blue norther bring a bit of cool air after a long, hot Texas summer. And if you don't happen to have a porch, just pull up a folding chair in the garage and watch from there.
We're flag-waving patriots. Our kids still say the pledge of allegiance every morning in schools across our state. There are 23 major military installations in Texas and we love and support the men and women in uniform. We're proud to be Americans and we're proud to be Texans.
And, yes, we have our own way of saying things. We say "howdy" and "y'all." We might invite you to "come in and sit a spell" or tell you we were "just fixin' to" do something. If we don't believe what you're telling us we'll tell you "that dog won't hunt." We "run with the big dogs" and live in a place than can be "hotter than the hinges of hell." And if you ask for directions don't be surprised if they sound something like "turn left at the Dairy Queen and keep going until you get to the place that used to be a Wal-Mart." And a someone pretending to be something they're not might be referred to as a "drug store cowboy" or "all hat and no cattle."
Contrary to what you may have heard, all of us don't ride horses, wear boots or carry sidearms. Most Texans don't want to secede from the union. And, hey, some of us even voted for Obama. But hush, don't tell anyone, we don't want to spoil our image.