Can pride fuel future successes?
Texans certainly have impressive egos. Mississippians and Louisianans know that from a young age.
I learned about that Texan pride during my stock-girl days at my father’s convenience store in Oxford.
Among the items we always kept in stock were polyester and cotton Texas flags. We didn’t sell flags from any other state so it always seemed odd to me to shelve a flag from two states over next to Mississippi’s state flag, the American flag and the Rebel flag — which was still very popular at Ole Miss in those days.
But those Texas flags did sell, and we always reordered.
I was reminded — or, perhaps, enveloped in — of that Texas pride over the weekend.
Kevin and I took a short vacation to San Antonio for a few days, enjoying the river walk, zoo and even the Institute of Texas Cultures. Needless to say, we encountered Texas pride — and that flag — at every turn.
Highway overpasses feature insets of the state’s shape wrapped in the flag or bronzed lone stars. Sidewalks are imprinted with the same star. A 20-foot model of the treasured star greets you at the state line. Businesses have integrated the state’s outline, the flag or the star into their logos.
The star is on fences, chairs, tables, napkins, bags, door hinges, bathroom walls and more.
They are simply proud of their state.
Texas is a large, oil-rich state that has been successful in most everything since the Alamo. They even celebrate the silver lining in that grand defeat.
It’s easy to look over there and understand why they are so proud.
But, what came first, the success or the pride?
If other states adopted the Texas model — big, bold and boastful — could they find successes too?
You don’t see visual expressions of Mississippi or Louisiana pride at every turn.
I saw more Texas flags in one stretch of the river walk than I’ve seen Mississippi flags in all of Natchez.
I know there’s a pelican on the Louisiana state flag, but I couldn’t tell you what else it says. It’s flown in Concordia Parish less than the Mississippi flag is in Natchez.
Neither of our great states has an easily repeatable emblem, like the Texas lone star.
We don’t take pride in the shape of our states, and you rarely see it drawn on much of anything.
Mississippians know that we bring up the rear on almost every list ranking good things. Louisianans know they shouldn’t point too many fingers our way since they aren’t all that far ahead.
So, on paper, it’s easy to understand why we don’t boast like Texans.
But Mississippians and Louisianans also know our states are great. There’s nowhere we’d rather be, truly.
The world may know about Texas pride, but few in Texas care much about the world.
The excellent branding efforts in that great state may be noticed by outsiders, but more importantly, they are ingrained in the minds of Texans. The symbols, the flags, the three dozens songs about the state, those things instill pride in the state’s residents.
And pride creates greatness, whether it was already there or not.
Texas has outlined a simple model — slap your state symbols everywhere and speak positively of the homeland. Neither concept is costly or difficult to understand.
When will Mississippi and Louisiana wise up and follow suit? It couldn’t hurt anything.
Julie Cooper is the managing editor of The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at 601-445-3551 or firstname.lastname@example.org.