Saturday, November 28, 2009

Editorial: Texan of the Year

Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Somewhere in the heroics at Fort Hood there's a Dallas Morning News Texan of the Year for 2009, many of our readers insist. The dedication to duty and willingness to sacrifice moved people profoundly after the mass murders on the massive Army base near Killeen on Nov. 5.
DMN Texan of the Year Coming Sunday, Dec. 27

"A Texan (or Texans) who has had uncommon impact; who exemplifies Texas traits of trailblazing, independence and staring down adversity; and who has affected or influenced lives.
Readers also point to these same qualities in so many others whose names or stories are unfamiliar to many of us. And they have given us a long list of nominees to pore over for the annual Texan of the Year recognition. A few:

•Dr. Priscilla Hollander, an endocrinologist at Baylor University Medical Center, is "the reason many thyroid cancer patients are alive today," said reader Susie Harrison of Rockwall.

•Pam Cope, founder of Touch a Life Foundation of Coppell, should be recognized for rescuing "trafficked children in Saigon, child slaves in Ghana and AIDS orphans in Cambodia," said Tracy Begland of Coppell.

•Todd Henry, stabbed to death in his special education classroom at John Tyler High School, was beloved by students and "truly gave his life for education," said Craig Gibson of Tyler.
Educators are well represented in the ongoing list of nominations, ranging from "all 300,000 Texas teachers," to individual classroom stars, to principals who emerged as high-impact turnaround artists for schools that others had given up on.

Impact. It's the ultimate qualification for Texan of the Year. There's no argument that hero jetliner pilot Sully Sullenberger had it, or Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert or Gov. Rick Perry. The Perry name came up a lot in the e-mail, some of it from admirers.

One person who has no shortage of admirers is identified in these parts by just one name: Laura.
"Texan of the Year should be Laura Bush," wrote Kristina Kiik. "Through the Women's Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute and the Institute of Women's Health at Texas Tech, the former First Lady is educating and empowering women at home and abroad."
The list of single-namers goes on – Colt, Kinky, Willie, Ebby, Jerry – some having spectacular years; others, spectacular lives.

One life that ended this year in remarkable fashion was Corpus Christi native Farrah Fawcett's. Wrote Leeanne Rebic Hay of Plano: "With dignity and grace, whimsy and tears, Farrah Fawcett created a documentary on her battle with cancer in the final stage of her life. She was the quintessential Texan – strong, brave, God-fearing and emanating an inner beauty that forever eclipsed the outer beauty of her youth."

Reader Sandra Steinbach celebrated someone less celebrated: "My mail carrier, who brings our daily mail no matter the weather, knows our dog's name, waves cheerily to me as I drive down the street and worries a little if I don't."

From the famous to the less so, which Texan (or Texans) had the kind of impact this year that merits recognition as Dallas Morning News Texan of the Year for 2009?

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