The Texas Story Project.
My Texas story doesn’t involve an event that happened in Texas. My story focuses more on the things that you don’t see and that most Texans don’t even realize until they live somewhere else and get to know people that aren’t from Texas. What am I talking about, you ask? I’m talking about Texas pride.
The first event that showed me how being a Texan made you different was Navy boot camp. It’s strange what happens to us when we go to boot camp. It’s almost like we revert to how people separate when they go to prison. For example, every Sunday we would follow what is called "holiday routine". This basically means we get some free time in the barracks to do whatever we wanted to do like write letters, listen to the radio, shine boots, iron clothes, etc. But the strange part was how a room full of eighty people would separate. Everyone except for the people from Texas separated by race. What makes people from Texas want to stick together while people from every other state separate instantly when given the opportunity? They went as far as to give us the name Texas boys. At the time it was something I didn’t even think about, mainly because the Texas boys were the biggest group which meant that we oversaw the radio during holiday routine. So why did everyone separate into racial groups except for the people from Texas?
It's also been apparent through my eight-year career in the military that people from other states have picked up on the fact that there is something that sets Texans apart. It’s not that they come out and say that you're different, it’s just that they will always go out of their way to make a joke about Texans at every opportunity. For example, as a Texan in the military you can’t escape the infamous quote from the movie Full Metal Jacket. Those old enough will know what I’m talking about. Another example would be the infamous quote, "Everything is bigger in Texas" which was impossible for me to avoid since I am only five feet four inches tall. Why does it seem like everyone always has at least one joke about Texans?
Throughout my career I also came to realize that Texans aren’t viewed in a very good light most of the time. This became more and more apparent to me every time I was transferred to a new duty station. Every time I checked into a new duty station I would do the typical meet-and-greet that every person does when they meet someone new. Every time I mentioned I was from Texas I would get a sideways look. If I was lucky, all I got was the look because some people would give the look and say, “Oh great. Another arrogant and loud person from Texas.” Why would people from different states think this about people from Texas?
I believe the answer to all the questions I brought up is Texas pride. The phrase "Texas pride" is hard to describe when you really think about it. Some people will look at it at face value and say it's just having pride in being a Texan. But for me it has a much deeper meaning. When I think about Texas pride I think more about the values that have been instilled in me throughout my life. For example, the manners and common courtesies that we were taught as children. I know it sounds strange for me to use common courtesy as an example but another thing my travels have taught me is that common courtesy isn’t so common. But I believe that it’s a culmination of all these values that tie Texans together, no matter where we are.
My name is Nathan Mills and I served eight years in the United States Navy. I am currently a student at St. Mary’s University studying forensic science with a focus in biology.
Posted March 22, 2018