West of the truck stop at Fort Stockton, Texas, and all the way to El Paso, there is almost nothing but mashed-potato hills, scrub brush and the open road. The speed limit is pretty much whatever you want it to be, and Texas Rangers are few and far between. For a few hours, you can imagine what the first settlers felt upon encountering the vast, majestic emptiness that is west Texas and all from the safety of your steering wheel.
You feel free.
It’s not emptiness, of course — not then and certainly not now, when the American horizon seems so much narrower than it once was. The pioneers, ranchers, cattlemen, schoolmarms, saloon keepers, cowboys, preachers, peddlers and prostitutes didn’t see it as empty at all, but as limitless — Nature’s illustration of the wondrous possibilities of the American experiment whose birthday we celebrate today.
The airplane has diminished our sense of wonder at where we are, but, especially on this day, it’s worth remembering — and experiencing.
You haven’t seen the country until you’ve driven across it. And you won’t really grasp the fallacy of the Left’s bogus argument that we’re running out of space and resources until you do.
Our country may have been born in revolution along the Atlantic seaboard but she was here long before the Founders brought her into being. It’s often said that America is an idea, not a place — a country devoted to a principle, not to a single people. And there’s some truth in that.
But in another sense, that’s exactly backward. For America is also a place that gave birth to a grand experiment in shared ideals and self-governance, a land of such great bounty and variety that it could not help but inspire — not just the Founders but all of us. Long may she continue to do so, from sea to shining sea.