AUSTIN--The numbers were, perhaps, fitting for the occasion.
On the 175th anniversary of the legendary "Line in the Sand" drawn by William Barrett Travis at the Alamo, a group of approximately the same size as the number of Alamo defenders rallied Saturday on the steps of the state capitol in Austin to press the Legislature to put the matter of declaring independence from the United States to a vote of the people of the Lone Star State.
"The 'Line in the Sand' was about making a decision," Texas Nationalist Movement president Daniel Miller told a group of around 200 members of the movement, the Constitution Party and other organizations gathered on the Capitol's south steps. "It was a physical symbol. On one side of that line was tyranny and death; on the other side was freedom -- and also death. We have to give that action meaning."
Legend has it that Travis, the commander at the Alamo, used his sword to trace a line in the sand at the old mission, telling the 186 or so defenders that it was up to them to surrender, to try and escape or face certain death defending the post. Only one man, according to the legend, failed to cross the line.
"The U.S. Constitution has been burned up and wadded up and thrown away like so much toilet paper by Congress," Miller said. "This is our time, this is our line in the sand. There is a call to decision."
A cold front which blew through Texas in the early-morning hours, plus the fact it was a state holiday weekend marking the 175th anniversary of Texas independence from Mexico, combined to keep the numbers of attendees down, but Miller said the size of the crowd was less an issue than the absence of all members of the Legislature. The event had the legislative sponsorship of State Rep. Leo Berman (R-Tyler), who also did not make an appearance.
"I know this is a three-day weekend when they can go back to their districts and 'visit their constituents,' but we've got a lot of constituents here," he admonished.
The TNM has prepared a concurrent resolution and presented it to the Legislature which calls for a non-binding plebiscite on the matter of Texas independence. The resolution is specifically non-binding and "for advisory purposes only" because the Texas Constitution does not allow for initiative and referendum.
The event featured several speakers from the TNM as well as Eric Kirkland of the Constitution Party.
Kirkland termed Texas Gov. Rick Perry "a big-government fraud" and said that even in conservative Texas, lawmakers were bankrupting taxpayers.
"We have school districts across the state of Texas that are run by 'conservatives,' but they're not being fiscally conservative. They're bankrupting those kids," Kirkpatrick said. "In 1900, the average American paid a little less than six percent of his total income in taxes. Today, that number is 37 percent and rising. (Democrats and Republicans) will bankrupt America, because there is an agenda to do that."
Radio host Gerry Donaldson said that not only other states, but the entire world, is watching what is happening in Texas.
"Right now we've got about 30 states that are watching Texas, waiting to see what it's going to do," he said. "We've got members of the European Union watching Texas, because they're tired of the E.U. They're waiting on Texas to lead."
TNM membership director Cary Wise said the plebiscite is important to give the people of Texas a voice they currently do not have.
"Without referendum we have no forum, no voice," he said. "The legislature, they're not doing what the people want them to do. We are constrained by the people in this building. They're passing bills on doggie insurance and slot machines while we are watching our country unravel."
Miller called forward the children attending the rally and formed them in a line on the capitol steps.
"Ladies and gentlemen, meet your future," he said. "I promise these children, I will not rest until they have a future worth living in."
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