Yes, we know it’s a few days early this year, but the Bullock Texas State History Museum has our permission to stage Texas Independence Day Dinner whenever it so desires.
It’s a pretty grand affair. The rotunda and inner lobby of the museum echo the formality of the actual State Capitol. Dressy yet relaxed, guests mingled easily before the meal and program. I spent the most chat time with author Stephen Harrigan — who is writing a new history of Texas for UT Press — and his wife Sue Ellen Harrigan.
Perhaps because former U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison was one of two honorees, the crowd trended Republican. It included Speaker of the Texas House Joe Straus, who introduced the gracious awardee. At Table 14, I sat between the parties who accompanied State Rep. Paul Workman and Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty. There was scant talk about the upcoming primary and much more instead about Texas, its shared history and our personal stories.
The other winner of the History-Making Texan Award was newsman Bob Schieffer, who appears to have made no enemies in the world. He was introduced by his former assistant, Kaylee Hartung, once with the Longhorn Network and now appearing on ESPN.
Nearby sat the party of Mexican Consul Carlos González Gutiérrez, a group that included Mark Madrid, president and CEO of the newly energized Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. I must admit I flinched at some of the awkward historical references to Mexico from the dais early in the evening, but everyone at the consul’s table continued to smile. That’s why they call them diplomats.