America Could Learn a Thing or Two from Texas

From Colonel Ken Allard and

“In the era of political correctness, it’s always surprising they still allow us to celebrate Thanksgiving. But until the PC police catch up, know what I’m most thankful for this week? That God allowed me to live long enough to become a Texan.

It’s not because I haven’t lived anywhere else. I grew up just north of Baltimore, living there until college and the draft took me elsewhere. The military moved me around a lot too but after almost two years of living in Texas, I have learned to accept the grackle (graculis horribilis) as State Bird and the other day, even helped my wife hang a picture of longhorns going off to water. But the real reason why a veteran – especially one recently returned to his Christian roots – feels so at home here is faith, faith in God and faith in country, established by the very first generation of Texans in that embattled mission called the Alamo.

Even in the midst of Civil War, when the idea of ‘country’ was undergoing an agonizing rebirth, Texan culture routinely produced a special breed. Having been assigned here as a Union officer, Robert E. Lee understood this – and knew where to turn when the Confederate center was threatened at the Battle of the Wilderness in 1864. “Bring up the Texans,” he ordered. Then, standing in his stirrups and pointing toward the enemy, Lee roared, “Texans always move them!” That day, they did.

You can still sense something of that spirit on Texas campuses, despite the inevitable inroads of the leftist professoriat and accompanying groupthink. I teach at the University of Texas at San Antonio, which displays mosaics depicting air cadets in uniform and where the acting provost is also a former draftee. We were both invited to last week’s Veterans Day commemoration organized by the university’s ROTC detachment, which commissions more officers in a single class than Harvard has since 9/11. (To say nothing of Columbia.)

Some are now serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, one recently recommended for a Combat Action Badge and the Bronze Star. With UTSA an established feeder school for the medical professions, another recent graduate served his first tour in Iraq as a nurse. After receiving his medical degree, he served two more tours as a doctor, the last as the squadron surgeon in an armored cavalry regiment.

World-class medical care was also on display in San Antonio last week at a benefit concert organized by the Military Warriors Support Foundation ( The governor, country music singers, Gold Star families and a crowd of seven thousand were present, all to honor twenty wounded soldiers from Brooke Army Medical Center. Each soldier had lost one or more limbs to IEDs, some walked across center-stage with a shuffle and one was confined to a wheelchair. But if you were looking for warriors with an attitude, conquerors rather than victims, no need to go see the Imax version of Beowulf: the real-life heroes were right here.

Governor Rick Perry pointed out that putting these soldiers back to work in our schools and businesses makes sense – and not only because rehabilitating the nation’s combat-wounded is the right thing to do. Their discipline, drive and determination represent precious assets that any employer can put to good use. (As I tell my MBA students, people who understand the concept of ‘enemy’ are exceptionally valuable in the competitive global market-place.)

Finally, there was a reminder about faith from Clayton Trotter, who lost a son in combat and so understands something about pain and loss. There are places in this country where the mere mention of religious faith, the Christian promise of life even in death, brings downcast glances and embarrassed sighs: but not in Texas. As Trotter spoke of these things, his words were greeted with roars of approval by people who may have had some personal acquaintance with the learning process of atheists in foxholes.

The Pilgrims would surely find it strange that America has moved so far from beliefs they considered so central to self-government, to civil society, even to life itself. Their celebrations typically included the Hundredth Psalm, written by David the warrior-poet and ending with these words: “For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endures to all generations.”

He is indeed: which is what this rookie Texan is most thankful on Thanksgiving and every other day. But let us hope that this will be the final one celebrated amidst such a cruel and disheartening conflict.”



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