Tribute to a Republic’s Independence Day
Speech Writer: Karen Ben-Moyal
The relentless passion for autonomy, self-government, and state pride beats to its own drum, “Deep in the Heart of Texas.” And today, as we celebrate Texas freedom, the devotion and desire for true liberty serve as a glistening example of the true American spirit. I believe that is why Texas is so different than the other 49 states. As far as state history goes, Texas has one of the most interesting and unique of the bunch. Texas exercised some of these rights in becoming its own, sovereign state. For this reason, Texans tend to identify themselves the most with these core values, than any other state in America.
Our early fight for independence says a great deal about our character. The world is familiar with how America’s Founding Fathers gathered in Philadelphia and declared their freedom from Great Britain by signing the Declaration of Independence. July 4, the day the declaration was signed, is celebrated throughout the United States. But few — even very few Americans — know about another Independence Day, March 2, 1836: the day that marked the beginning of Texas’ short history as an independent republic. Santa Anna had risen to power in Mexico. He used this power in order to limit the guarantees provided in that country’s constitution. Texans, then referred to as Texians, sought access to courts, public education and freedom of religion from the government of Mexico. Failing to earn these through political means, colonialists started fighting for their freedoms. Fighting continued at the Alamo through March 6, until all the Texian defenders of the mission were killed, which gave rise to the slogan, “Remember the Alamo,” which is well-known by Americans. A personal hero of mine, Col. William Barret Travis, is worth noting.
Col. Travis commanded the badly outnumbered Texas forces, who fought valiantly until the bitter end against a Mexican army that outnumbered them at least 10-to-1. Despite overwhelming odds, Col. Travis swore in a letter to the “People of Texas and All Americans in the World” that “I shall never surrender or retreat.” He closed the letter with the promise, “I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible and die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor and that of his country – victory or death.” In the end, this heroic group of 189 Texans inflicted nearly 600 casualties on Santa Anna’s Mexican forces. To this day, their courageous stand is a model for schoolchildren of how to remain brave in the face of adversity.
Texas pride has roots as deep as the state is wide. It is a badge of honor we wear with pride, and it is as much a part of our identity as any other element of our background. A world without America would be a world without democracy. A world without democracy, would be a world without Texas. A world without Texas would be a world without the guarantee and satisfaction of knowing that freedom can always be acquired, no matter what the odds are. What it all boils down to is the very definition of what it truly means to be a Texan.
In other words, Texas is hope; something no nation or human being can prosper without.
Copyright. Karen Ben-Moyal. March, 2015. U.S. House of Representatives. Press Secretary Office of Congressman Ted Poe.