Texas Flag
A Texas flag flies before Game 1 of the MLB American League Championship Series baseball playoffs game between the Detroit Tigers and the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas, Oct. 8, 2011. Reuters

Every March, millions of Texans proudly commemorate their state. Even Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) posted a photo of the state flag on Twitter Thursday, wishing his followers a Happy Texas Independence Day. If you’re scratching your head and thinking, "Wait… Isn’t Texas, well, not independent? It’s a part of the United States, right?" Well, you’re not the only one.

Despite calls over the past few years for Texas to secede from the U.S. and create its own country, Texas Independence Day does not mark Texas’ independence from the United States. Actually, March 2 commemorates Texas’ independence from Mexico.

Starting in 1821, Texas was known as “Mexican Texas,” and was a part of Mexico. But 14 years later, Texans decided to revolt. The fighting began at the end of 1835, and in March 1836, several Texan delegates headed to the Washington River and passed a declaration proclaiming Texas was a republic independent of Mexico.

“When a government has ceased to protect the lives, liberty, and property of the people, from whom its legitimate powers are derived, and for the advancement of whose happiness it was instituted; and so far from being a guarantee for their inestimable and inalienable rights, becomes an instrument in the hands of evil rulers for their oppression,” stated the first sentence of Texas’ Declaration of Independence.

That republic didn’t last long, however. In December 1845, just shy of 10 years after the day Texas announced its independence, it joined the United States.

This year marked the 181st anniversary of Texas Independence Day, and Texas residents certainly know how to celebrate. People dress up in period clothes to re-create battles from the 19th century; participate in parades while waving the Texas flag; throw parties (and throw back some beer too); run a celebratory 5k; and, in true Texas form, eat a lot of barbecue.

And like Cruz, many are sharing their love for Texas online.