Recently an Oklahoman friend, who enjoys chiding me about my very vocal Texas pride, joked how ridiculous it would be if his Okie brethren exhibited the ludicrous amount of adoration and pride over their flag as Texans do. “Yes,” I said. “It would be ridiculous. Nobody has ever died for your flag.”
He chuckled. I did not.
These days, even here in Texas, the fact that this land was once a country whose soil opened to receive the blood of both tyrants and patriots is sadly an obscure one. Patriot like William Physick Zuber, who at a mere fifteen years old, stood with his fellow Texans against tyranny, raising their fledgling flag among the nations for the first time.
Zuber served as a rear guard in the Fourth Company, Second Regiment, Texas Volunteers at San Jacinto on that fateful day of April 21, 1836. San Jacinto was an event that, in a mere 18 minutes, avenged the massacres of Texas patriots at Goliad and the Alamo. The Texan force of 910 volunteers crushed the “Napoleon of the West” and his army of 1500 men.
For his service during the Texas Revolution, Zuber was granted 640 acres in Grimes County. He could have settled down and made a comfortable life for himself but instead he returned to the service of Texas from 1837 to 1840 in south Texas Indian campaigns, again in 1842 in the Somervell Expedition, and yet again in 1862 as a member of Company H, Twenty-first Texas Calvary in the Confederate Army. What causes a man to repeatedly return to battle voluntarily?
Love of country.
All told over the months of the Texas War for Independence, nearly one thousand heroes gave their lives for their country, ensuring that the land called Texas would forever be free and sovereign. Their sacrifice and willingness to stand up in Texas’s hour of need characterizes the gritty and determined spirit of a people known far and wide as folks that do not relent, do not quit, and do not back down to adversity.
The Texas flag that now flies over San Jacinto honors the loyalty, purity, and bravery of the outnumbered volunteers. Men who had no delusions of grandeur. The battle of the Alamo bitterly taught them that Santa Anna took no prisoners. They could have turned tail to secure their own lives, but they marched toward something bigger than themselves. They didn’t settle for mere existence, they fought for the birth of a new life.
A new nation.
Of their country, they could be proud. Shaped and wrought with cannon and musket, forged with the grim determination that her people would not submit to dictators, Texas was born on the blood soaked battlefield of San Jacinto, today, 181 years ago. Patriots like Zuber have handed down to us a sacred legacy, a spirit that we may yet hold close to our hearts: the belief in liberty and self determination under a Lone Star. Let’s protect that quality and purpose to never bow to the schemes of tyrants. And let’s remember this day on which our foundling republic took it’s first determined steps, trusting their fate to the decision of the supreme arbiter of the destinies of nations.