Texas Heritage, Summer 2001 Page: 6
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by Marshall J. Doke Jr.
olumnist Pamela Gwyn Kripke recently said that "it is
universally known that Texans are really happy they are
Texans." We agree with her comment, and this happiness is
justified for many reasons.
There are intangible aspects to our Texas pride. The independence
won from another nation, the traditions of bravery,
the sense of place, and the bonding felt by Texans when outside
of the state are difficult for non-Texans to understand.
Texans are proud of our history and culture, which we owe to
those who came before us. Those of us living today are stewards
of this heritage for future generations. In this issue of HERITAGE,
we recognize and honor history museums and historic
homes and sites, which serve as guardians of our heritage.
Our Texas traditions today are threatened by revisionists,
some who seek to poison the story of our heroic past. Texas historical
museums protect and display the artifacts and documents
that provide the factual evidence for our perceptions of
Texas history. The rest of us are responsible for the traditions
and spirit, the idea, of Texas.
Museums (and history) always must be open to revision based
on new information. True historians always must seek and evaluate
new information. At the same time, museums can protect
our traditions from those who teach contempt for our past.
Our Texas museums and historic sites guard our cultural property,
which constitutes one of the basic elements of any civilization.
The value attached to cultural property and its significance
mandate the need for preservation, protection, and public
awareness. The memory of a people is embodied in its cultural
property. If that property is lost or destroyed, part of our
culture and memory goes with it.
In the previous edition of HERITAGE, we celebrated the
opening of The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in
Austin. This new institution is truly a state treasure. No
true Texan can leave the museum's short movie - The
Spirit of Texas - without a lump in the throat.
Our Texas local museums and historic sites are smaller
treasures, and each provides a more limited and specialized
view of our past. These museums record and chronicle a
common heritage of a given community or a specialized
subject as a public trust for future generations. All Texans
owe a great debt to these museums.
Local museums collect, preserve, document, and display
authentic objects and documents, some of which are rare
and valuable while others are significant only for the information
they provide. Most of the collections are contributed
by community members. These museums become
the community memory, and they record and honor the
Our debt to these museums is compounded by the challenges
they face - limited resources, generation of earned
income, maintaining enthusiasm, and the competition they
have for funds, support, and audience. They continue to
operate solely by the commitment of their boards of directors,
patrons, members, and staff. We are especially indebted
to the volunteers, including board members and staff,
who give their time to fulfill the mission of their museum.
We thank and salute them.
As individual stewards with personal responsibility for
our Texas heritage, we can partially repay our debt to our
historical museums and otherwise discharge part of our
obligation as Texans by supporting these museums. We
each can attend our own local museums (as well as others
when we travel) and learn more about Texas from the experience.
We can make our history museums a destination for family,
friends, and visitors. We can promote museums merely
by discussing them with others over dinner or at other
social events (the best marketing is word of mouth).
Financial support, of course, often follows regular attendance.
If we really learn the story of Texas, we will "love to tell
the story." Only our own sense of duty and devotion to our
state can inspire succeeding generations. We must celebrate
Texas not only in our words but also in our lives.
Doke is lawyer in the Dallas office of Gardere Wynne Sewell
LLP. He welcomes your comments or suggestions regarding the
Texas Historical Foundation at his e-mail addressmdoke@gardere
HERITAGE U SUMMER 2001
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Texas Historical Foundation. Texas Heritage, Summer 2001, periodical, Summer 2001; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45385/m1/6/: accessed August 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.