- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 30, 2003

Texans rallied ‘round their state flag Wednesday at the National Building Museum to herald the new “Symbols of Texas History” exhibit.

The show features 31 antique Texas flags restored with a $250,000 gift from the Friends of the Texas Historical Commission.

The state’s No. 1 resident, President Bush, declined to appear at the last minute. Instead, Mr. Bush was in his home state promoting his faith-based initiatives. He attended a Christian youth group meeting outside Dallas en route to a major fund-raising benefit.

His absence didn’t break the society’s stride. Members of the group have been gathering to bond and network since 1904.

Texan pride starts at school, where children are taught their state’s rich history, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison said at the pre-dinner reception.

“It attaches our people to our state in a way you might not see in other states,” Texas’ senior Republican senator said. “We were a nation for ten years [before joining the United States]. I think that has been passed down.”

Some might derisively label the commander in chief a cowboy, but Mrs. Hutchison thinks the term is more complimentary than partisan.

“Cowboys are wonderful, independent, rugged. They work very hard,” she said.

Among the estimated 750 guests were Secretary of Education Rod Paige; Sen. John Cornyn; Reps. Kay Granger, Randy Neugebauer, Pete Sessions and Eddie Bernice Johnson ; U.S. Homeland Security Director of Citizenship and Immigration Services Eduardo Aguirre ; Holocaust Museum Council Chairman Fred Zeidman; and Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers, who performed “Texas, Our Texas” during the dinner portion of the affair.

Mr. Gatlin took a moment to reflect on the Dixie Chicks, fellow Texan musicians who got their feathers ruffled earlier this year for their anti-Bush rants.

“The men and women serving our country, they’re bleeding and dying for the right [for the Dixie Chicks] to express themselves, even if they’re wrong,” Mr. Gatlin said, politely disagreeing with the ladies’ sentiments in true gentlemanly fashion. “If they were in Baghdad eight months ago, they wouldn’t have been able to say that [there].”

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