Hats off for Texas: Independence Day’s coming up

AUSTIN ‘ In 2002, taking a political stand can cost a career. In 1836, it could cost someone his life. When 59 Texans’no matter that only two of them actually had been born in Texas’signed a declaration of independence from Mexico, they knew they were putting their lives on the line. Despite the lofty language of the document to which they affixed their signature, as far as the government of Mexico was concerned, they were admitting to piracy. The signers were Mexican citizens. What they were saying with their signature was that they were willing to resort to violence to take up self-government. Interestingly enough, the declaration drafted at Washington-on-the-Brazos was not officially signed until March 3, but its contents had been approved the day before. March 2 just happened to be the birthday of one of the signatories’one Samuel Houston, better known as Sam. Not too surprisingly, March 2 evolved as the day on the calendar when Texans celebrate the bold step those 59 politicians took 166 years ago. March 2 is a state holiday, at least for state employees. But since it falls on a Saturday this year, none of the 200,000-plus state workers will be getting a day off from work. Even so, the anniversary is not going to go unnoticed. One of the reasons is Roger T. Moore. Moore, who runs an Austin-based advertising agency, is a board member of Celebration of Texas Independence Day, Inc., a non-profit organization created a few years back to raise Texas consciousness of its colorful heritage. ‘Until a few years ago, folks who paid attention to the significance of Texas Independence Day were about as scarce as horned toads on I-45,’ Moore said. That was particularly bothersome to the late Jay Johnson, a businessman and former Austin city council member who was a friend of Moore’s. The two of them, and several other coconspirators, cooked up the idea of doing all they could to make a big deal of March 2 once again. This year’s observance begins at 8:30 a.m. March 2 with a memorial service at the State Cemetery in Austin. At 9:15 a.m., a 5K run starts at the Bob Bullock State History Museum. A parade will move up Congress Avenue beginning at 10:30 a.m. This year’s grand marshal is University of Texas football quarterback Major Applewhite. Speechifying and music follow at the Capitol grounds at 11:30 a.m. ‘We want everyone to have fun, and we want to educate the public about Texas,’ Moore said. With that in mind, here’s one more piece of background about Texas Independence Day: Another reason the signers didn’t get around to putting their name on the document until March 3 was because Houston had had a bit too much to drink on his birthday the day before.

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