History is a Growth Business
By Bruce Elsom
A Texan’s roots stretch from border to border. Anywhere in the [state’s] 254 counties is still home.
When you think about it, history is a growth business. Each day more is made, and that which already exists has no expiration date. It perpetually accumulates. We are its product. In large part, its creator. And I like to think Texans cherish their heritage more than most—it dwells in our ethos. This is why the Alamo and Goliad still cause goosebumps. Why Texas music is its own genre. Why, when asked in a foreign land where we are from, we reply “Texas” instead of the United States. And it is why that stranger understands.
But as much as the icons, Texans hold onto their roots. Ask directions in any small town, and you are likely to hear them expressed in local landmarks. “Take the first right past the old Davenport place,” the local will tell you, even though the Davenports are several generations gone from the land. It is why you are more likely to come across a historical marker on an unpaved county road or beside a rural cemetery than alongside a highway. Texans care that history happened, not that it happened conveniently. And urbanites are no less inclined. Houstonians understand when you refer to the Transco Tower, and Midlanders know the First National Bank Building—much to the chagrin of the current anchor tenants. A Texan’s roots stretch from border to border. Anywhere in the [state’s] 254 counties is still home.
Outsiders would label this notion old fashioned; circumstances past and present have little or no part in our making. But if we ignore our roots in pursuit of identity, we should expect no less of future generations. If they turn aside who we are, then our aspirations and accomplishments are doomed by our own hand to decay with us. This is why history matters. And honoring our unique history is why being a Texan matters.
Closing on a personal note, I would like to thank THF directors for giving me the opportunity to serve as president of the Foundation. Outgoing President David Martinez, Chairman Tom Doell, committee members, the entire board, and staff have done a remarkable job leading the organization these past four years, and exciting things are happening as a result.
In January, the Foundation will honor Charline and Red McCombs of San Antonio with the third-ever Star of Texas Award. This remarkable couple has not only promoted and preserved Lone Star history, they have made it as well. Look for event details in this issue of Texas HERITAGE (see page 13) or by visiting www.texashistoricalfoundation.org. THF continues to fund preservation and education activities across the state, the breadth and expanse of which make this organization unique in its mission. A campaign to increase endowments in order to better assist those who are preserving the Lone Star heritage will soon be underway. After all, we are still making history.