We are a land of immigrants – peopled by those who have left their known world to find a better one here; abandoning their roots, their memories and mementos, their heritage. That story has never been told better than in Places Left Unfinished at the Time of Creation, a lyrical memoir by John Phillip Santos. He writes of the centuries old tale of the Mexican people, their Indio origins and Spanish conquest; their melded mestizo race; the uneasy immigration and co-existence in El Norte on lands that were once theirs.

Two Texas boys, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, advised mamas everywhere to not let their babies grow up to be cowboys. "Don't let them pick guitars and drive old trucks; make 'em be doctors and lawyers and such. . . . They'll never stay home and they're always alone, even with someone they love." Good advice from these two "outlaw country" singers, particularly when it comes to itinerant cowboys.

Some of my Northwest friends tell me that when they think of Texas they still have a vision of dusty old cowboys, cattle, windmills – all very hardy and very, well, American. The West is held as an icon of the American spirit of adventure and its determination to tame a wild land. What many people forget is that we are and have always been an immigrant nation, and Texas was settled in part by German and Czech peoples.