Lone Star flies again on Worsham Street
Texas Independence Day was yesterday March 2nd. and I didn’t remember until today so I am turning back time and celebrating today. My Lone Star flag has been in the garage since December when my neighbor across the street rescued it from being blown away by hurricane force winds while I was in South Carolina. Tonight my new next-door neighbors rescued me from certain disaster on my ladder and returned the flag to its rightful position on the garage. But, I didn’t stop there…
Worsham Street lit up
I knew there was a good reason I didn’t totally take down the Christmas lights yet and what could be more appropriate than firing up the lights in March for Independence Day? For all of my readers who weren’t required to take Texas history in the fourth grade, March 2, 1836, was the day a group of disgruntled men met in a small frame building in a remote place called Washington-on-the-Brazos and signed a Declaration of Independence from Mexico. Needless to say, the Mexicans were as fired up as my lights and a short war ensued. And I do mean short. On April 21, 1836, the Battle of San Jacinto was won by the legendary General Sam Houston over his adversary General Santa Ana and the Republic of Texas was born.
And such is the stuff dreams are made of. Words like independence and equality roll off the tongue as easily as chocolate and marshmallows for me today and I need to slap myself periodically to guard against my personal archenemy, Complacency. I had a good lesson last week from a PBS documentary called Makers: Women Who Make America. From Bella Abzug to Betty Friedan to Shirley Chisholm to Geraldine Ferraro to Barbara Jordan to Billie Jean King to Ruth Bader Ginsberg to Sonia Sotamayor to Elena Kagan to Sandra Day O’Connor to Gloria Steinem to Oprah Winfrey to Ellen DeGeneres to Nancy Pelosi to Patricia Schroeder to Hillary Clinton to Rita Mae Brown to Meryl Streep who narrated the program, I re-lived the significance of these pioneers in American history and the contributions they made to my own opportunities in the 1960s and beyond. Personal s-a-c-r-i-f-i-c-e, and I have to be careful to say this word slowly so as not to underestimate its importance, and dogged determination to move the cause for basic human rights for gender equality forward made these women true heroines and the past sixty years a tumultuous time of two steps forward and one step back.
And yet, while I was in the process of earning degrees from universities to enter a workplace where I was worried about equal pay for equal work and domestic partner benefits for lesbians or other social justice issues, my sisters in countries outside the United States worried about a crust of bread for their daughter or shelter from the elements or a chance for any education at all. If you are one of my regular readers, you know I can hardly resist the urge to quote the great western philosopher Garth Brooks and tonight is no exception.
“When the last child cries for a crust of bread, when the last man dies for just words that he said, when there’s shelter over the poorest head, then we shall be free…When the last thing we notice is the color of skin and the first thing we look for is the beauty within, when the skies and the oceans are clean again, then we shall be free…When we’re free to love anyone we choose, when this world’s big enough for all different views, when we all can worship from our own kind of pew, then we shall be free…”
So tonight I celebrate Texas Independence and the heritage I have as a native and, thanks to the genealogical research of one of my cousins, daughter of the Republic of Texas. Freedom and liberty and equality have exacted a price and require my ongoing commitment and diligence. Compassion and empathy and courage will define my character. As my daddy used to tell me, you can take the girl out of Texas, but you can’t take Texas out of the girl.
Happy late Texas Indy Day, then. I wrote a story for a Cleveland paper on suspected homosexual men denied access to shelters, even after the AIDS scare subsided. A person dies outside in Cleveland in the winter. The facts that informed the story were outrageous…the outrage was limited. Writers don’t like story assignments like that…it means lots of work and little reward. Trivia: In Ohio there is a law on the books outlawing my marrying, because I have epilepsy, and epileptics were considered spawn of the devil, no to be encouraged to reproduce. Rligiously inspired lawmakers from 1842, I think…just never got taken off the books.
Outrageous, indeed, on all fronts in Ohio, trivial and otherwise. As a whole, we are so clearly clueless.
Great piece, Sheila.
Thanks so much, Bob! Have a great week at the beach!!
Thanks, Poppy and Ma!