Never ask someone if they are from Texas. Because if a person is from Texas, they will tell you in short order. If they are not from Texas, asking will only make them sad that they had the poor fortune to be born someplace else.
I am a Texan, born and mostly raised on the desolate plains of the Permian Basin (search) in the western part of the state. People always want to know, what's so great about being a Texan? I think one thing I saw this past weekend during our Hurricane Rita (search) coverage just sums it up perfectly.
As you know, the evacuation of Houston (search) was somewhat chaotic. It's not easy to evacuate a city of four million. Where else but Texas, where everything is bigger and better, could you have a traffic jam that was more than a 100 miles long? People seeking shelter from the coming storm found that there simply was not enough gasoline along the evacuation routes. Many folks with their cars running on fumes had no choice but to pull over to the side of the road and hope that the tanker trucks would soon arrive. They pulled the lawn chairs out of the back of their SUVs and waited.
For more than a few stranded motorists, the wait was not very long. Fellow Texans who lived along the evacuation route heard about their plight. Without being asked, they simply went to their garage, grabbed the five gallon gas cans they use to fuel their lawnmowers and weed-whackers and went out in search of the people who needed help. Good ol’ boys in pickup trucks saved the day. A five-gallon can of gas was like gold to the families who wanted desperately to get off the road and find shelter. And you know what? I'll bet not a one of the guys would take a penny for their trouble.
It is but one example of what makes Texas great. There's a problem, someone needs help — let's see what we can do to fix it. No one had to ask them. No government officials were needed. It just got done.
The people of the Lone Star State had already demonstrated a tremendous capacity for kindness and compassion by the way they stepped up to help the victims of Katrina. More than a few of the Bubbas with bass boats who showed up in New Orleans (search) to help in the rescue effort were from Texas. The citizens of Houston gladly took in hundreds of thousands of Katrina evacuees. There was never any discussion about who would pay, or who would be in charge. It was just the right thing to do — so Houston did it.
Even though I haven't lived in my home state for more than 20 years, this is why I still want to be known as a Texan. The people are just the kindest, friendliest, most decent people you are likely to find anywhere. Sure, as a group, we're a little loud. We love our pickups and our SUVs and, Lord knows, we love to talk trash about how great we are. "You can always tell a Texan," the old saying goes, "but you can't tell 'em much."
But in times of trouble or despair — it's the Texans you want standing at your back.
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Brian Wilson is a congressional correspondent for FOX News and anchor of the Sunday edition of "Weekend Live."