The emcee announced that it was time to pledge allegiance to the Texas flag. What? Before I even realized what was happening, I was no longer standing in the midst of my fellow countrymen. I was a foreigner. Instead of thousands of Americans celebrating their shared cultural identity, our gathering became thousands of Texans and three outsiders.
My two children looked at me helplessly. My nine-year-old daughter mouthed, “I don’t know the words.” I mouthed back, “Me either.” We merely shrugged at each other. At some point my hand dropped from my breast. The entire episode seemed surreal. It was as if the universe shuddered, and I had been shifted into some alternate dimension.
I never quite managed to regain my sense of oneness with the crowd. We weren’t Americans anymore. They were Texans, and we were not. They knew the pledge, and we didn’t. They wanted to pledge allegiance to the flag of Texas, and I didn’t.
I am a Louisianan. We can be pretty proud of our state too, but we’re not like the Texans. Our allegiance to Louisiana tends to be more cultural and culinary. These Texans can be so political. Louisianans find Texas pride both amusing and irritating. Texans tend to take pride in things that we don’t care about. If the citizens of my home state knew that Texas had its own pledge, it would induce statewide eye rolling. There they go again.