Thursday, January 11, 2007

Foiled insurgency in Texas

Little did I know, till being tipped off by Cliopatria, that since 2003 a Texas law has required all school children to start the day with the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Flag of the Great State of Texas.

Now, I was brought up by Texas patriots. They showed me Washington-on-the-Brazos, where our Declaration of Independence was signed. They taught me about the Centennial Exhibition of 1936. In my school we had prayers and the pledge to the stars and bars, but I did not even know there was a pledge to the Texas flag.

Here's the story, from the Handbook of Texas Online.

In 1933 the legislature passed a law establishing rules for the proper display of the flag and providing for a pledge to the flag: "Honor the Texas Flag of 1836; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one and indivisible."

But there was a bit of a problem--an error that was not corrected until 1965. The 1836 flag looked like this:

tx flag

It was called David Burnet's flag, after the man who was the first president of the Texas Republic. Yes, 1836 was the year that, down at Washington-on-the-Brazos, Texas declared its independence from Mexico! It did not become a state until 1845: nine years of sovereign independence. (I have earlier told the story of the Lone Star Flag.)

So for more than 30 years, from 1933 to 1965, Texans--at least the secretly initiated who actually knew about the pledge--swore their allegiance to the flag of the failed but still deeply imagined and warmly remembered Republic of Texas. What were they thinking?

The post-1965 version is the same but for the deletion of the year. Even more abbreviated than the old one, it lacks music entirely: "Honor the Texas Flag; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one and indivisible." As long as schoolkids have to say it every day, they ought to give it an overhaul. I hear Kinky Friedman has time on his hands . . .

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