The Texas Senate named Chuck Norris an honorary Texan on Tuesday. This was not because Chuck showed up and roundhouse-kicked everyone into submission — naming honorary Texans is something the legislature does on a regular basis. Even for lesser mortals.
Who else, you are asking, has received this honor?
Well, in 2015, the Legislature was busy making Texans. Most notably, British singer Phil Collins got the Lone Star stamp of approval for his efforts on behalf of the Alamo. Also actor Gary Sinise was honored for his work advocating for veterans.
But other honorary Texans minted in 2015 include Albanian artist Genc Mulliqi, Czech Republic exchange student Vladimir Jaskevic, UT basketball coach Shaka Smart and former Philadelphia Eagles player Troy Vincent.
The resolution can be introduced in the House or in the Senate or it can be a concurrent resolution, such as the one in 2015 that declared May 26 to be John Wayne Day for a 10-year period. Often such resolutions simply absolve newborns unlucky enough to be born outside state lines, but lucky enough to have relatives with friends in high places.
Sometimes it’s weird. In 2011, a House Resolution granted posthumous Texan-ness to Italian national hero Giuseppe Garibaldi, for reasons nearly a half-dozen “whereas”es couldn’t make clear.
One particularly good story is the one of famous naturalist John James Audubon. After a visit to Texas in 1837, a senator in Texas’ fledgling government proposed to make Audubon an honorary Texan. Or Texian, as they said then. It went nowhere and stayed that way until 1985, when Sen. Carlos Truan sponsored a new resolution, which was easily adopted.
But the Lege doesn’t have all the fun. Texas governors can declare honorary Texans, too. Then-Gov. Rick Perry went nearly full partisan in his declarations: Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity, Rudy Giuliani, Glenn Beck and … Rush Limbaugh. (He also dubbed singer Chris Knight and actor Russell Crowe, for a little balance.)
Gov. George W. Bush was a little more, ahem, presidential in his selections. He made several prime ministers and other foreign dignitaries honorary Texans … and Bob Dylan, too.
Gov. Ann Richards kept it a little weirder. Under her watch, the parents of Jerry Jeff Walker, Bob Hope, Don McLean and Arnold Schwarzenegger became honorary Texans.
Perhaps the oddest honorary Texan ever was Nicolae Ceau?escu, Romania’s brutal communist leader until 1989. When Gov. Dolph Briscoe honored him, we’re willing to bet he didn’t anticipate Ceau?escu would be the only honorary Texan to be executed by a firing squad.