Originally Posted: April 2021 issue
Growing up along the El Paso-Juárez border, I was a long drive from where much of the prevailing stories of Texas history took place. El Pasoans’ revolutionary heroes came from Mexico. Our cowboys were vaqueros, and our missions mainly told the history of Native Americans. Even if some of our schools were named after people who fought for Texas’ independence, those names hardly meant anything to me since I didn’t grow up hearing their well-known stories—real or mythic.
Of course, even in the westernmost corner of the state, it was almost impossible to live unaware of the Texas ideology. I knew the Alamo existed, but it was so distant from my world it might as well have been in New York. It wasn’t until I moved to Dallas in 2014 that I noticed just how much its story is ingrained in the identity of the state.
I’ve read more about Texas this year than ever before—thick tomes like Stephen Harrigan’s Big Wonderful Thing; and smaller books like Richard R. Flores’ Remembering the Alamo. Both ask weighty questions about what a place like the Alamo means. (The short answer: It depends on how our present circumstances influence our view of the past.) I read books written by Texas writers and by outsiders obsessed with the state’s legends. I read about things I had just absorbed from living here. Not even two months into 2021, I had read 11 Texas-related books. My reading inspired me to finally set out to see these foundational places with my own eyes. READ MORE