This is a big day. The day that started it all. The day that spawned battles where legends gave the ultimate sacrifice. The day that ignited a war in which men would be forged from trial, conflict, and toil into the leaders of a nation. The day that inspired nearly two centuries of lore, culture, pride, and mystique. The day that would ingrain fierce loyalty from everyone, from everything, conceived from its success. Without this day, without the actions of five and some dozen men at the town of Washington-on-the-brazos, and, subsequently the bravery and selfless courage of thousands of civilian soldiers, the United States arguably never reaches two oceans.
Who knows what happens if the Mexican state of Tejas y Coahuila never declares its independence. Does the entire landmass remain under Mexican control? Maybe. Though it’s hard to imagine the early United States government’s land and blood lust doesn’t eventually tempt it to take the acreage by force. Fortunately, we’ll never have to know, because on March 2nd, 1836, a delegation of Mexican citizens of the state of Tejas y Coahuila declared their independence from Mexico as an act of defiance of the Mexican general Santa Anna’s siege of the Alamo fort in San Antonio.
But what does all this mean for you, a Texan in the twenty-first century? Maybe you’re lucky and you live along the battle trail, so you can go to a re-enactment or Independence Day parade. For the rest of us in the other two-hundred and some odd thousand square miles, here are ten things you can do to have a successful Texas Independence Day.
1. Texas Booze: There’s so much good alcohol coming out of Texas. Craft brewery after craft brewery from El Paso to Houston, up to Dallas and down to the Valley. If hops aren’t your thing the Hill Country has quickly become a go spot for wine connoisseurs, and should soon become a hub for vodkas, tequilas, and whiskeys as well. Whether it’s Tito’s, Garrison Brothers, or just a plain Shiner Bock, do what Davy Crockett probably did when he realized his situation and indulge in some fine Texas spirits.
2. Texas Music: Say Texas Music and people will probably think Western swing, of which Bob Wills is still the king. They should, because Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys spawned an entire generation of legendary Country and Western singers like Willie, Waylon, Guy Clark, George freakin’ Strait, the list goes on at least two more articles. Beyond country though Texas boasts several legends in other genres. Famed rap duo UGK hails from Port Arthur, TX, a satellite of Houston where screwed music launched a slew of artists’ careers. Also native to Houston is the inimitable Beyoncé Knowles. After you’re done sampling Houston’s catalogue you can move south and try Freddie Fender, ZZ Top, and, the immortal Tejano legend Selena Quintanilla-Perez (RIP). No matter the genre there’s going to be a Texas legend in it, happy listening.
3. Whataburger: I’ve been asked what makes Whataburger so good. I don’t know. I’ll admit, I’ve had better burgers. I’ll admit, I’ve had better breakfast. I haven’t had better sweet tea, they have that. And nowhere else has the Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit either. I can’t say what makes me completely onboard with the idea of eating Whataburger a majority of the week. Go there and try it for yourself.
4. John Wayne’s “The Alamo.”: There are several other versions of the Alamo. I think one even stars Dennis Quaid, and as much as I like Dennis Quaid, he should’ve faced jail time for desecrating Texas like that. John Wayne’s Alamo film was released in 1960, and it should have been the last one made. Wayne stars as Davy Crockett and other people are in it too but they’re not John Wayne so frankly they’re pretty irrelevant.
5. Lonesome Dove: I almost included this in with the next category but it’s my favorite movie adapted from a book written by my 2nd favorite author so it deserves its own listing. Tommy Lee Jones, Robert Duvall, Anjelica Huston, Diane Lane, Danny Glover and many more. Read Larry McMurtry’s book first, then watch the movie, then go read everything else by Larry McMurtry
6. Texas Creators: Beyond the music scene, creators in Texas are doing, and have been doing wonderful things. As I mentioned above Larry McMurtry has a wonderful catalogue of work, and Texas Monthly contributors Nate Blakeslee and S.C. Gwynne also have new books out, respectively. If you’d like to try out some movies but John Wayne isn’t your thing (yeah, right) try other noted Texas filmmakers like Wes Anderson, Robert Rodriguez, Mike Judge, Richard Linklater, or, Tope Hooper.
7. Texas BBQ: You can’t say the word BBQ without a bunch of takesters from Kansas City, Georgia, and the Carolinas coming to rain achkchyuallys on you like a German Blitz over London. No one wants to hear about mayonnaise sauce or chopped pulled pork spare ribs or vinegar marinated whatever the hell it is they’re doing up there. We’re talking about Texas BBQ, which is smoked brisket from Cooper’s BBQ in Austin or Llano. Nowhere else. Yes sauce.
8. Pecan Cobbler: This should also be from Cooper’s BBQ in Austin or Llano but if you can’t get down here just try to find somewhere that looks like the building should have been condemned for structural deficiencies back in the 80’s and you’ll be good to go. Small scoop of ice cream is acceptable.
9. Rodeo: The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is going on right now and in a couple weeks the Austin Livestock Show and Rodeo will kickoff. We’re right in the middle of the Texas swing of rodeo season so grab some boots and your one size too big Wranglers so you can fill up on rodeo food since it’s your only chance to get your fried fix till the State Fair.
10. Texas Sports: It’s close, but Texas’s sports might be more stories and talent filled than its music. The state is lousy with talented and exciting sports at the amateur and professional level no matter what your interest. Pick a sport and I’ll bet there’s a Texan competing at the elite level of it.
Whether you’re emptying your bank account at Buc-ee’s, popping Lone Stars until you reach the end of Texas’s artist discography, taking a cheesy bluebonnet picture or enjoying the freedom of 85MPH speed limits the point of having a successful Texas Independence Day isn’t what you do, it’s recognizing the cavalier individuality and entrepreneurship that went into making the state which has given us so much enjoyment through the years. It’s about reveling in our blessings as citizens and remembering the sacrifice and selflessness then and now that keeps Texas succeeding. Oh and being obnoxious too. It’s definitely about being as obnoxious as you can to make all the out of state foreigners jealous.
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