The Pride Of San Antonio

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Last week's stay in San Antonio, Texas, where I attended the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics convention, has me convinced the people of that beautiful city are a proud bunch.

From what I witnessed, the residents' seemingly unending pride is focused on their beloved San Antonio Spurs, President George W. Bush, the great state of Texas and barbecue.

During the convention, the Spurs overtook the Dallas Mavericks in the chase for the Western conference championship. The team's climb to the NBA's top spot set off celebrations in watering holes, restaurants and clubs around the city.

As the hottest team in the NBA, the Spurs will probably meet the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the playoffs.

As San Antonio fans gaze down the playoff road, the ones I spoke to firmly believe the Spurs have the talent and ability to defeat Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant and the remainder of the Lakers should such a series unfold.

In San Antonio, there's a seemingly unwavering support for the former Texas governor and his efforts to free Iraq.

Even with 17,000 free-spirited math teachers from around the nation converging on San Antonio, there was very little criticism, or even discussion, about America's role in the war. From what I saw and heard, the administration's foreign policy is simply not hotly debated in the heartland of Texas.

That's in sharp contrast to other cities where anti-war rallies have drawn big crowds of activists.

The residents' support for the war effort and Bush policies is probably buoyed by the presence of soldiers and their families from four nearby military sites -- Lackland Air Force Base, Fort Sam Houston, Kelly Air Force Base and Brooks Air Force Base.

Many of the airmen currently fighting the war in Iraq received their basic training at Lackland.

During a visit to the Alamo, the most popular T-shirts I spotted were stenciled with slogans like "Don't Mess with Texas" and "Texas is Bigger than France."

When Texans settle down for a few hours of rest, you can bet it's usually around a plate full of slow-smoked meaty ribs, spicy brisket, hot links and other grilled specialties.

A popular eating place for visiting teachers was the County Line Smokehouse and Grill on the stunningly beautiful River walk.

After days of enjoying barbecue, my wife Kay said she yearned for a good old-fashioned hamburger.

As she and I waited to depart San Antonio International Airport, we visited former NBA great George "The Iceman" Gervin's restaurant.

Much to Kay's chagrin, the menu featured no hamburgers -- only ribs, brisket, links, beans and potato salad. Kay's yearning for a hamburger had to be put on hold.

In Texas, they call San Antonio the Alamo City. For the math teachers who visited, it might be best called unforgettable.

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