My first experience with someone from Texas was on a warm June day at church. The young man was between his freshman and sophomore years at Texas Christian University. He was in our town to work on the oil rigs for the summer. He asked me to go with him to the wiener roast and hayride that was scheduled for later that evening. I loved his Texas drawl, and immediately accepted.
My Dad wasn’t too happy when I told him my plans for the evening. He said, “You can’t be going out with someone we don’t even know and not from around these parts on top of that.” I believed I could make this kind of decision since I had already graduated from high school. Even so, Dad called the Pastor and asked all about this young man, and the Pastor told him that he knew the young man and his family and that he was a good guy. You see, our Pastor was from Texas, too!
That was my first experience with anyone from Texas. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was destined to head to Texas myself. While I had a great time on this first date, it was the only date I had with him, but two years later, I met my future husband. He was a Texan and was in Colorado Springs in the Army and I was working there. When he was released from the Army, we moved back to his home in Southeast Texas.
Fifteen short years later, he died suddenly of a heart attack. Many of my dear friends and relatives assumed I would move back to Colorado. I told them, “I couldn’t possibly uproot my three kids from the only home they had ever known. They already had enough to deal with upon their father’s death.” It turned out to be the right choice and another gentleman came along (also a Texan) and we married.
His four children and my three made us a BIG family. Some years later, a couple of his grandchildren went into the army. Then one day, out of the blue, we received the phone call that one of them had been shot and killed in Mosul, Iraq. He was only 26 years old and stood a towering 6’4” tall. He was on top of a building returning fire when he was shot. His commander said that “Clint Gertson was the kind of man that made you proud to say that you served with him.”
We went to the funeral a hundred miles or so outside Houston. The church was packed. After the service, we travelled a long route from the church to the cemetery. Along the way, the fences were decorated with yellow roses – miles and miles of them! People lined the roads and military and police stood at attention as we drove by.
I think the yellow roses were so significant to me because his parents had them all over their yard while he was deployed. It reminded me of a song I learned while I was still a teenager, and living in another state, entitled “The Yellow Rose of Texas.” I think it may have been one of my first thoughts about this place called Texas. You remember the lyrics:
She’s the sweetest little rosebud,
That Texas ever knew
Her eyes are bright as diamonds,
They sparkle like the dew,
You may talk about your Clementine
And sing of Rosalee,
But the Yellow Rose of Texas
Is the only girl for me!
Legend ties the yellow rose to a war between Mexico and Texas. The yellow rose of Texas was considered to be Emily West Morgan. She kept General Santa Anna occupied on that fateful day, April 21, 1836, when General Sam Houston defeated the Mexican army and Texas won its independence.
Today, organizations have sprung up touting the significance of yellow ribbons in war time. One such organization, “Yellow Ribbon America” provides yellow ribbon stickers to be displayed on vehicles. Their “mission is to educate, motivate, activate and unite all Americans, to give direct help and assistance to members of the U.S. and Canadian military and their families in their individual communities.” Our military deserves our support whether we agree with wars or not.
In spite of all the difficulties of getting to Texas and staying in Texas, this is one Texan who is proud to be part of this great state.
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