Grams is proud to be a Texan. I was born in Texas and have never lived anywhere else. All students in Texas are required to have one credit in Texas History, usually in middle school. I'm embarrassed to admit that, when I was younger, I thought everyone studied Texas history. I mean, why shouldn't they? It's so interesting and exciting. It never occurred to me that people all over the USA didn't have to take a class and learn about Goliad or the Alamo.
You may not know that March is Texas History Month. Grams is a bit of a Texas history buff. March 2, 2011 was the 175th anniversary of the adoption of the Texas Declaration of Independence, the day we declared our independence from Mexico and became a sovereign nation.
I thought I would use this as an excuse to celebrate Texas so I've put together a list of all things Texan from A to Z.
A is for the Alamo, the cradle of Texas liberty, where Texas heroes Davy Crockett, William Travis, and Jim Bowie along with about 180 other lesser known heroes died. It's also for armadillo, the official state mammal, commonly seen on the side of Texas highways as roadkill.
B is for Bluebonnets which are just bursting into bloom along Texas highways and byways. Bluebonnets are to Texas was fall leaves are to New England. There are entire web sites dedicated to following the annual blooms. And for Bluebell Ice Cream made in Brenham and considered by most Texans to be the best ice cream you can get without hand cranking it on your front porch.
C is for chili, the official dish of the State of Texas, invented in San Antonio. And, for the record, there are no beans in Texas chili. C is also for Caddo Lake, the only natural lake in the entire state. According to a Caddoan legend, Caddo Lake was formed by an earthquake. A Caddo Indian Chief was warned by the Great Spirit to move his village from the low lands. The Chief ignored the warning and one day while he and his men were out hunting the ground shook. When they returned, their village was gone beneath the water of the newly formed Caddo Lake.
D is for Dr Pepper the oldest major brand of soft drink in the U.S., originally concocted and served at Morrison's Drug Store in Waco Texas. It's also for white-tailed deer which are abundant and widely hunted in Texas. The first day of deer season is practically a state holiday.
E is for Enchanted Rock near Fredericksburg, a huge, pink granite dome, that rises 425 feet above ground, 1825 feet above sea level, and covers 640 acres. It is one of the largest batholiths (underground rock formation uncovered by erosion) in the United States. And, the view from the top is awesome. Hiking Enchanted Rock is one of my proudest accomplishments.
F is for the flags of six different nations that have flown over Texas: Spain, France, Mexico, Republic of Texas, Confederate States of America, and United States of America. It's also for the Frio River, a beautiful, ice-cold spring-fed river that runs through the Texas Hill Country. A favorite destination for most Texans. Frio is the Spanish word for cold and, trust me, the water is always cold.
G is for Goliad where the first offensive action of the Texas Revolution took place and the original Texas Declaration of Independence was signed. It's also the site of the massacre of Colonel Fannin and 341 of his men when they were marched outside the walls of the Presidio La Bahia and shot. It was the largest loss of life in the cause of Texas freedom and "Remember Goliad, Remember the Alamo" became the battle cry for the revolution.
H is for Houston, the largest city in Texas and the fourth largest city in the U.S. It's named for General Sam Houston, the first president of The Republic of Texas.
I is for independent. Texas is the only state that was ever an independent nation. The Republic of Texas existed from 1836 until statehood in 1845. And ... Texans are notoriously independent. As you know, everything is bigger and better in Texas.
J is for President Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th president of the United States who is remembered for his Great Society policies including the passing of Medicare, Medicaid, the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act. It's also for Lady Bird Johnson who led the effort to beautify America. She is responsible for the re-seeding of wildflowers across the State of Texas and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas bears her name.
K is for the King Ranch, located in South Texas and one of the largest ranches in the world. It's larger than the state of Rhode Island. And it's also for Kinky Friedman, musician, political satirist and gubernatorial candidate. He's definitely a Texas original.
L is for the Lone Star flag. It's blue for loyalty, white for purity, and red for bravery. The Lone Star stands for our unity ... one God, one state, one country.
M is for the Marfa lights, mysterious ghost lights that are visible year round. Native American's knew about Marfa Mystery Lights long before the first recorded sighting in 1883.
N is for Willie Nelson, a Texas original and living legend as famous for his run ins with the law as for his epic country music career. It's also for Nacadoches, the oldest town in Texas. It's so picturesque you might think you're in the Old South.
O is for oil, black gold, Texas tea. In 1901, the Spindletop gusher ushered in the 20th century and took Texas from an agrarian economy into the petroleum and industrial age.
P is for Palo Duro Canyon, the Grand Canyon of Texas and home to the production, Texas, billed as the most spectacular outdoor musical drama in the world, complete with horseback riders and fireworks.
Q is for Quanah Parker, the last chief of the Comanches, who never lost a battle to the white man. He was the son of a Comanche chief and Cynthia Ann Parker, a white captive.
R is for ranching which was born in the wide-open spaces of Texas. Texas boasts the Cowboy Capital of the World at Bandera. R is also for Rio Grande, the fifth longest river in North America which forms the border between the U.S. and Mexico.
S is for San Jacinto where General Sam Houston's army defeated Santa Anna. Now the site of the world's tallest war memorial, 15 feet taller than the Washington Momument.
T is for Tex-Mex, the regional cuisine which combines the best of Mexican and American cooking. Tex-Mex is noted for its usage of sour cream, cheese, meat, heavy use of Comino (cumin), jalapeño and even olives.
U is for universities ... Texas is home to some of the best. Texas A & M at College Station, the University of Texas, Texas Tech, SMU, Baylor, and Rice to mention just a few of the big ones. And Texas is home to one of the biggest and best sports rivalries anywhere between the Fighting Texas Aggies and the Texas Longhorns.
V is for Virgen de San Juan del Valle Shrine in San Juan, Texas (near McAllen) which is visited daily by hundreds of pilgrims seeking miracles, healing, and indulgences through the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Shrine was rebuilt after a plane was deliberately crashed into the original shrine in 1970. Miraculously, the image of the Virgen was unharmed and all 130 persons inside the church made it out alive.
W is for wildflowers which are just bursting into their annual springtime bloom along the highways and byways in Texas. It's also for Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, the king of western swing.
X is for the XIT Ranch in the panhandle of Texas. It was once the largest ranch in the world "under fence." The land for the ranch, some three million acres, was payment from the State of Texas for the granite used to build our state capitol building. It's also for X Marks the Spot a Texas Monthly article detailing stories of buried and lost treasure in Texas, everything from pirate ships to bank robbers' booty.
Y is for the Yellow Rose of Texas. Legend has it that a beautiful mulatto slave named Emily Morgan was entertaining Santa Anna when the Texians launched a surprise attack on a napping Mexican army at San Jacinto. She was the inspiration for the well-known song. And, although the Yellow Rose of Texas isn't actually a rose, Tyler, Texas is the site of one of the largest municipal rose gardens in the world.
Z is if for Antonio Zapata, military leader and wealthy ranchero, who was convicted of treason and executed because of his armed resistance to Santa Anna and loyalty to the Republic of Texas. And it's for ZZ Top sometimes referred to as "That Little Ol' Band from Texas." The rock legends, who have played together as a unit since 1970, are best known for their bearded, haggard look and reclusive mystique and for such hits as "Sharp Dressed Man" and "Gimme All Your Lovin'."
I love being a Texan!