I’m a native Texan, born and raised in the heart of Friday Night Lights country.
During my years of service — at least until I became a member of the Texas Army National Guard — I was that obnoxious guy from Texas who wore cowboy boots, jeans and a Stetson all the time. Basically, the one that annoyed the hell out of people from the other 49 states and four territories because of an excessive amount of pride in my state.
On Sept. 11, 2001, when the planes flew into the World Trade Center towers and into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Americans managed to stand up and declare in a solid voice that we “were all New Yorkers” now. It didn’t matter our skin color, political views, religion or sexuality, we stood united.
It didn’t take very long for that to go away, but Texas pride never wavered. We were obnoxiously proud of our state before 9/11, and we continued to be well after.
There have been many natural disasters since that time, with Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy coming to mind as some of the most notable, and manmade tragedies such as the Boston Marathon attack since that terrible day.
None, however, really brought the country together the way we were as a nation in the months following 9/11.
Then Hurricane Harvey landed on the shores of southeast Texas. Being the proud people we are, Texans were there immediately to help out with rescue efforts and supplies.
Our good neighbors in Louisiana were but a step behind and, before you knew it, the nation followed. People of all colors helping each other without ever asking what their personal, political or religious beliefs were — simply one human being helping another.
Incredible acts of heroism, self-sacrifice and love for fellow Americans were on display on live TV for the rest of the nation, and the world, to see. After so much hate and division because of race and politics in the news lately, seeing that Texas spirit come out in volunteers from across the nation showed the world what America is truly about.
Those who put on the uniform of a United States service member, regardless of branch or component, know the meaning of that spirit already. Those first responders and volunteers from other states now know it as well.
And thanks to their example, and the example of our troops striving to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey not only survive, but thrive, the rest of the world knows it now, too.
We are all Texans now. Let’s hope we can continue to keep saying that long after this storm is behind us.
David A. BRYANT is an Army retiree and a military journalist for the Killeen Daily Herald. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7554.