The year 2021 started off as no other in our memories. Still reeling from the effects of the Corona pandemic, astonished and saddened by the breach at our Nation’s Capitol, we were left wondering what possibly could happen next. Almost overnight the world's attention was focused on the Rio Grande Valley when our nation's president announced he would visit Alamo to dedicate a section of "The Wall" that had been completed or repaired during his term.
This would be his second visit to the Valley during his four-year term. Many were overjoyed and some were fearful that there could possibly be another confrontation between opposing factions. That certainly was not the case.
In true Texas fashion, the visit was welcoming, orderly and organized. Whether you agree or disagree over the purpose of the visit, Texans and the citizens of the Rio Grande Valley were well disciplined and patriotic in their response. And that is the way it should be.
Whether the wall is abandoned, destroyed, or continued, it is now a part of our Valley history. For many years citizens from the neighboring countries moved freely back and forth across the river. Businessmen living on this side actually had their business on the other side of the river. Daily they freely crossed the river to oversee their business. From Brownsville to El Paso, families had relatives on both sides of the river.
Settlers discovered the area watered by the river and often married beautiful senoritas who had inherited large tracts of Spanish land grants bestowed upon their families by the King of Spain. Since Spain claimed what we now call Texas as well as what is now called Mexico, they could levy taxes as they wished while governing from afar. Eventually, taxes paid to Spain became exorbitant and citizens from both sides of the river joined together to fight successfully against Spain for their independence. At the end of that war what had been known as New Spain became known as Mexico.
Texas as we know it now was actually a part of Mexico. They say history repeats itself and that is exactly what happened. A few years later, the citizens living in this area did not like paying taxes to a government located so far away as Saltillo, Mexico. That war led not only to our independence but also to a disputed border between Texas and Mexico. The Battle of the Alamo, Goliad and the Battle at San Jacinto are all well-known battles from that War. Several skirmishes and battles occurred right here in the Rio Grande Valley.
This area has played a major role in the history of our Nation and in the history of Texas. There have been tears and romance, forts, and supply depots along with a grand mix of two great cultures. If you really embrace the customs of both countries, you probably ate tamales on Christmas Eve and black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. Heaven knows what part of the world gave us Butternut Squash Soup but when I shared my soup with a dear friend, the immediate response was that it tasted too sweet. So out came the serrano chilis to give it just the right amount of zing! What could be better than sharing the best of two worlds?
To get a better understanding of the Border, how about the tour Peace and After, A Link to the Past. It is a good mix of our history and what has made us what we are today. This tour received only good reviews. Not one negative comment.