This Texas Independence Day, Texans face a choice. Liberty is in danger, and we have a chance to draw a line in the sand and fight for it. I’m proud to say that Texans will stand up. Because Liberty is in their veins and in their heritage.
In early March, 1836, 52 men braved the bitter cold in the small village of Washington-on-the Brazos, Texas to form a new nation. The building had no glass in the windows, and these delegates wore buckskin and homespun. Compared to the gathering in Philadelphia 60 years before that launched the United States, this was a poor and improvised affair.
But the men who on that day declared the Independence of Texas knew with every fiber of their being what the price of liberty was. One hundred and fifty miles away, in a dank, crumbling adobe fort called the Alamo, just under 200 of their countrymen faced the ninth day of a terrible siege.
The enemy was the Mexican general Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, who had campaigned on a platform of change and liberty. Many Texans had supported him, but soon soured when it was clear that he was not quite what he had claimed to be.
In the Alamo, Lt. Col. William Barrett Travis knew the odds were against him. But he also knew that the fight for liberty is always worth it – whatever the odds. In a letter a few days before, he made it clear where he and his men stood:
“…I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch. The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country. — Victory or Death!
The Alamo fell on March 6, 1836. None of the men inside could know that just four days earlier, Texas had declared its independence. None would know that by the end of April, Texas would secure that independence with the glorious victory of San Jacinto. For all they knew, they would die forgotten in that crumbling frontier bastion. And yet those brave men fought on, because the fight for liberty is what makes men and women free.
That spirit still guides the Lone Star State today. In the words of Sam Houston, true now as they were the day they were spoken, “Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may.”