Tuesday, August 25, 2009
What it means to be a Texan.
Young John Farrell from Washington on the Brazos, Texas, was just a kid when he served in the Texas Army at San Jacinto. Exhausted and half- crazy from the carnage, he wandered around the next day needing a little "counseling," as we would say today. The Mexican arms had been confiscated and piled almost chest high. Every kind and description of weapon was thrown onto the pile, to be sorted and dealt with later. Some guns were still loaded and there were hundreds of powder horns, mini-balls, swords, short swords, daggers, and other weaponry in an unorganized, dangerous pile.
John spotted an intriguing relic among the rifles. It was an ancient flintlock blunderbuss, like the ones pirates are seen brandishing in the movies. Now young John had never seen a pirate or a movie, but he still had to hold the wacky looking thing… with its stumpy, funnel-like barrel… and cock it, and what the heck, dry- fire it… not noticing the gray sand he was standing in was really an army’s worth of gunpowder. The old flint-on-steel lock slapped and exploded instantly, throwing sparks in e v e r y explosive d i r e c t i o n, and in a split second, the whole magazine spit and whoofed and baLOOOEY. Uniformly blackened, Young John Ferrell was taken into custody, lucky to still be alive.
Brought before General Sam Houston, a strong case for treason, espionage, and unbelievable stupidity could have been made. General Sam, freshly wounded and suffering terribly, looked upon the young man as if he were the cause of his misery. “Are you the young man who blew up the m a g a z i n e?”
“Yes Sir, General, I did it… but it was an accident.” Farrell breathed each word as if it were his last.
“Then sir” Houston concluded very unamused, “I will have you shot tomorrow morning at nine o’clock.”
Young Farrell was taken away. He spent the worst night of his life, waiting for his execution. He had failed as a soldier, as a son of the Republic, and brought eternal shame upon his family. He was ready to die. General Houston was feeling so bad, his wounds nearly killing him, he could never expect mercy. There was not even a scrap of paper to write down a note to his mother.
The next morning, he was brought before General Houston about thirty minutes before the scheduled end of his Texas citizenship, and the beginning of his Heavenly one. General Houston, having slept and shaken off the effects of the morphine that gave him some badly needed rest, looked at the boy with different eyes. “Well young man, how did you rest last night?” Houston queried, knowing full well the answer.
“N o t m u c h, General” John choked, fighting back Texas-sized tears, wondering how he might go about begging for his life, to a man he idolized so much.
“Did you think that I would’ve had you shot?” The General asked as if it was the most important question of the day.
“I did not know sir.” John was not a big talker, especially when his life was at stake. He might just as easily say the wrong thing. Better to keep it simple.
“Well sir, young men are too scarce to be shot like dogs.” Houston reasoned as if someone else had ordered his execution. “Officer of the Guard, turn the young man loose.”
For once, a Texan was thankful that Sam Houston was not always a man of his word.
But Sam Houston was in many ways sitting in a position just like God. He was the ultimate Judge, and obligated to judge with blindness and fairness. And he was, in a backwater battlefield of a fledgling Republic, the momentary dispenser of Grace.
God does not want any of his children to perish, any more than General Sam wanted any young Texan to be shot like a dog. I love this story, because it is true, and because it is a perfect illustration of God’s Grace. And how people on this earth can learn to give it freely. If General Sam Houston, with all of his worries and concerns and personal discomfort could reverse himself, swallow his pride, then take the time to teach a boy about accountability, AND about forgiveness, then every mother’s son should try to do the same. And so should every arm of government.
That’s what being a Texan is about. The Law. The letter of the law, and more importantly the SPIRIT of it, and the wisdom to use common sense, led by God’s Mercy and Grace, to stand for what is right. And sometimes it’s just not in a book somewhere. Sometimes the book calls for something... as in this case, that would have been abominable. Sam Houston saw the young man as a resource too valuable to throw to the lions of the Law. And actually, every citizen is. Sam Houston would have been the first to make sure the wicked were punished. But he knew the difference between his children and his enemies.
What made Sam Houston so unique in the annals of history, was that he was a true leader, unafraid to stand for what was right, regardless of public opinion or law books, or special interests, or political correctness, and forces that usually win today. He made some mistakes, but Texans always respected him whether they agreed with him or not, because he was a man of conviction.
Our government today seems to mix it up more and more, discarding common sense and unable to, or not caring to discriminate her children from her ememies. Americans have traded trust and wisdom in their leaders for objective, almost clinical fairness. Everything is so PC, we are finally going to "make life fair." That of course is a relative matter and a delusion. It will only bring more contention as everyone tries to get satisfaction, and once again the social warfare will commence. And young goobers like John Farrell will be lost in the crossfire.