Watching the world watch Texas.

August 31, 2021

In this issue of Branding Texas: Texas Olympians bring home the gold; famed Texas singer-songwriter passes away; remembering a couple of good friends, one an editorial pioneer the other a civilian war correspondent hero; Texas can’t seem to make up its mind on masks; and big business continues to come to Texas, which the LA Times dubbed a “talent magnet.”

I’d agree.

Thomas Graham


From the heart of Texas comes Olympic victory

US Magazine and other national media celebrated Jordan Chiles, who trained in Spring, Texas at the World Champions Centre, for stepping up and defending Simone Biles, also raised and trained in Texas, when Simone hesitated at the Tokyo Olympics.

Biles, who chose to leave the women’s team vault early due to injury, was done proud by her teammate who helped to lead the U.S. to a second-place finish in the event. Although Chiles has only recently become a Texan in 2019, she has done a great service to the state.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics concluded after over two weeks of exciting events and, as it turns out, the United States did quite well.

Yahoo Sports shows how the United States took a comfortable lead against the competition with a total medal count of 113; more than 20 medals ahead of second-place China’s 88, and 40 more than the Russian Olympic Commission’s 71.

While many states produced great athletes, Texas competitors earned a fortune on the podium. Of the 113 won by the United States, athletes from Texas earned 24. This success was thanks in large part to the swimming and track athletes from the Lone Star State, who had standout performances in an already impressive metric.

Historically, taking home the gold is nothing new for Texans. Looking back to the 2016 Summer games in Rio, if Texas were considered as its own nation in the 2016 games, they would have a 5th place finish overall among all countries. In these most recent games, the great nation of Texas would secure 11th place. A small departure from the 2016 ranking, but with an ever-rising level of competition and a whole new generation of all-star athletes, it is massively impressive nonetheless.

We are so proud of all the athletes that competed for the U.S. in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and know Texas will continue a grand tradition of being the United States’ shining star.


Texas singer-songwriter Nanci Griffith dies at 68

Texas folk and country icon Nanci Griffith has died after an esteemed life on stage. She was 68.

The New York Times recounts Griffith’s talented origins: writing and performing songs in Austin clubs at the age of 12. By the time she finished university, she was on her way to winning a songwriting award at the Kerrville Folk Festival. She would go on to release her first album in 1978.

Her career truly blossomed from then on, and she has served as an inspiration to artists around the country. NPR News remembers the homage paid by artists who covered her songs, with “Love at the Five and Dime” especially donning multiple forms and variations throughout the years.

Griffith has released 18 studio albums and won several music awards over her career, including the Americana Trailblazer Award in 2008. Her legacy will be a musical blend of love, folk, and country that is sure to shine on for years to come.


Pioneer, editor, soldier – Arnold Garcia passed away at age 73

Arnold Garcia, the long-standing editor at the Austin American-Statesman and Crosswind advisor, has passed away at age 73. The world outside Texas didn’t know much about Arnold, beyond a 2019 op-ed essay in the New York Times, but his impact on the rise of the Hispanic voice in American politics was profound and will endure.

San Angelo Live honors Arnold with a commemoration of his work and life. Arnold was one of the first Latino editorial page editors in the country and always fought to ensure that news coverage of Austin and Texas truly reflected the growing diversity of the community. Arnold retired from the Austin American-Statesman in 2013 after 39 years with the newspaper, 22 of those as an editorial page editor. Arnold also served as the dean of Texas editorial boards. After his retirement from the news sphere, Arnold joined Crosswind in an advisory position and led the team in matters requiring tact and finesse.

Beyond his tenure in the news realm, Arnold also served his country in the Army. He operated overseas in Germany as a sergeant before eventually returning home to become a Captain of the Texas National Guard.

Arnold spent his life protecting individual rights and freedoms, from his early start in the army to his eventual retirement as an esteemed editor. He was a veteran, a husband, a father, and a dear friend. He will be missed.

Texas’ meandering mask mandates

Earlier this month, Governor Abbott released an executive order which banned the enforcement of mask mandates in Texas. Abbott is cited by the New York Times as saying that “protection against the virus should be a matter of personal responsibility, not forced by a government edict.”

This decision, which sparked some controversy, was met with criticism by citizens and lawmakers who believe that masks are still an effective method of curtailing the spread of Covid. Some Texas districts even went behind Governor Abbott’s orders and issued mask mandates of their own. Two notable examples include Dallas County in Dallas and Bexar County in San Antonio. The Dallas County mandate was to be enforced inside both schools and businesses, while Bexar County judges ruled that masks could be enforced in schools. As some of the most populous districts within the state, this departure from the larger government signaled a shift in how the state may approach the pandemic.

These impromptu mandates did incur a federal response by the Supreme Court, however, who voted to temporarily block the mask mandates. The ruling by the Supreme Court may have been in part due to the Texas Disaster Act of 1975, which Abbott’s team argued gave them “broad authority to dictate statewide disaster response.”

Despite the already temporary nature of the Supreme Court’s ban, the Texas Education Agency informed the state that Governor Abbott’s mandate ban had been dropped prematurely in response to ongoing court challenges and public backlash.

Since then, however, Abbott has instituted yet another ban on mandates, but this time for vaccines. Fox News reports that “Abbott’s executive order bans a requirement for the shot even if it is fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration.” Abbott once again reasons the importance of individual rights and liberties for people to decide how to best take care of themselves.

The future of masks and vaccines in Texas is uncertain for now, but new data regarding infection rates, hospitalizations, and total cases are sure to inform the state’s policy going forward.


More companies are moving to Texas

Business is moving fast in Texas, and it’s moving in from around the nation. A surge of announcements regarding companies moving to Texas has brought much excitement to the Lone Star State.

With the inclusion of new ventures and headquarter relocations, the Austin Business Journal reports that over 250 companies have their eyes set on a shiny new Texas base. This is in line with our own research which reveals how most Americans believe Texas is a good place to start a business.

AECOM announced its planned move to Texas because, according to the LA Times, the construction giant has chosen Dallas, Texas due to its status as a “corporate talent magnet.” AECOM is the newest addition to the list of major company relocations from California, including Jacobs Engineering Group, Toyota Motor Corp., and Occidental Petroleum Corp.

Among the myriad companies rumored to be flocking this way, next up is Samsung, who Reuters reports as considering investing in a 17 billion dollar chip factory. This would certainly act as an economic boon for the proposed location of Williamson County, as the new plant would create nearly 2000 new jobs.

Texans have a lot to be excited about with these announcements. Big companies moving to Texas means more jobs, money, and support in the state. It goes to show that Texas is still the premium candidate for business ventures new and old, and will surely mean great things for the future of business in Texas.


Commemorating civilian hero Joe Galloway

Famed journalist and author of “We Were Soldiers Once… And Young”, Joe Galloway dies at age 79.

Galloway was a combat reporter who served four tours in Vietnam. He was also a dear friend of mine, whom I got to know through our work on behalf of the Vietnam WallPennLive looks back at his close relationship with the 1st Cavalry Division during and after the war. Both Texas natives, Galloway and the 1st Cav were acquainted before their departure to Vietnam.

Though there was eventually a large military presence in Vietnam, the 1st Cav was the first full US Army division stationed in the country. Galloway is quoted by KDH News as saying that he first believed the war would be over after the marines landed, but would soon learn that “that was probably not the case.” Galloway’s words would prove prophetic, as the Vietnam War proved to be a much more complex situation than first impressions had suggested. Galloway and the 1st Cav would meet their own most dire straits during the first year of their deployment.

The Battle of la Drang Valley was a brutal encounter that saw the deaths of the many U.S. and Vietnamese soldiers. Galloway’s experience was more akin to that of a soldier than a journalist, as he carried ammo, men, and a rifle into and out of combat. Galloway is the only civilian to have been awarded a medal of valor for actions in combat during the Vietnam War.

It was only after Vietnam concluded that Galloway was able to finally recount his stories in a more serious format. Having kept in contact with the 1st Cavalry’s at-the-time lieutenant colonel and now Lieutenant General Hal Moore, the two set about writing a book about their experiences. “We Were Soldiers Once … and Young” was an immediate national success and illuminated many on the Battle of la Drang Valley and life during the war. The novel spurned a similarly successful film adaptation under the name “We Were Soldiers” in 2002.

After the Vietnam War, Galloway continued his journalism career as a war correspondent and was involved in reporting on the Persian Gulf War and Operation Desert Storm. He is survived by his family including his wife, two sons, and step-daughter.

We’d love to hear from you.

Please email [email protected]