Dear friend of liberty,
Today marks a very important anniversary. On a grassy field not far from here, 178 years ago, the Texas Revolution began with a simple act of citizen defiance.
You may know the story of how the small town of Gonzales, increasingly restive under the growing tyranny of the Mexicans, was confronted by a Mexican army unit under the command of one Lieutenant Castañeda. The Lieutenant had arrived to disarm the town. The people of Gonzales had a single cannon to protect themselves from Indian attack and, as they became more and more insistent upon their liberties throughout the fateful year of 1835, it dawned upon the Mexicans who lent them the cannon that perhaps they ought to take it back. And so Lieutenant Castañeda conveyed his demand to the Texians: surrender your cannon.
But what he really meant was: surrender your freedom.
The men and women of Gonzales knew exactly what was at stake. They knew that if they gave up their cannon, a small and simple weapon though it was, that they were giving up their liberties. The decision on the face of it seemed like a simple one. The Mexicans had every advantage. The Mexicans had an army. The Mexicans had arms. The Mexicans had a government. The Mexicans had a treasury. And the Mexicans had a proven and ruthless determination to suppress all dissent.
The Texians, on the other hand, had just one tiny cannon and the indomitable determination to be free within their hearts. They searched their consciences and decided that this was enough.
The message from Gonzales went back out to Lieutenant Castañeda, and it was a message emblazoned upon the hearts and souls of every liberty-loving Texan in the 178 years since.
The defiance at Gonzales that started the Texas Revolution was rooted in the most ancient human impulses for liberty. They took their inspiration from what they knew to be their God-given nature as free people and from what they understood to be their heritage as the inheritors of the free peoples that went before them.
They fought because they loved liberty and because they understood history. And that is why we, 178 years later, must remember them. Partly it is because we must honor their achievements. But it is also because, in remembering and understanding the history of the fights for freedom that came before, we draw inspiration and resolve for the fights for freedom that lie ahead.
Today we recollect the spark that lit the flame of the Texas Revolution. That spark was kindled in the minds and souls of men and women who knew that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were worth fighting for. They did not stop to calculate the odds because they knew, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, that the destiny of man is more than material computation. A moral vision of freedom of prosperity, and of dignity is perhaps the most powerful thing in human history. It is the reason Texas became free.
Please join me in remembering the heroes of Gonzales who fought and died and won for us 178 years ago, today.
President & CEO