Mr. Speaker, today I rise to commemorate an historical event in the Lone Star State's grand, glorious heritage. On March 2, 1836, Texas declared independence from the dictatorship of Mexico. On March 6, the Alamo fell with the loss of 187 defenders, all volunteers, William Barrett Travis, Davy Crockett, and Jim Bowie.

Now, I am going to tell my colleagues, Mr. Speaker, the rest of the story and why this day is so important to Texas.

Less than 60 days after the fall of the Alamo, on this day years ago, an 18-minute battle took place on the murky banks of the San Jacinto River where it meets Buffalo Bayou in southeast Texas. History forever changed. Texas' independence from Mexico was secured, and Texas became a country for 9 years.

After the Alamo fell, the Texas army moved rapidly east, being chased by three invading armies from Mexico. The Texans had been joined by settlers fleeing the advance of the tyrant Santa Anna, who was burning Texas settlements. The armies reached a marshy lowland where General Sam Houston decided it was time to turn and fight the enemy.

In a letter Sam Houston wrote to a friend on the morning of April 19, he said, ``The odds are greatly against us, but the troops are in fine spirits and now is the time for action. We go to conquer'' for Texas and they did.

Most battles, Mr. Speaker, in our history start at sunrise, but the Texans were not waiting for another day. So General Sam's army of frontiersmen, shopkeepers, lawyers, ranchers and former slaves, all volunteers, in various types of odd attire, began mustering at high noon. They did not look like an army, but they all had the boldness and bravery and brazen courage to fight for Texas and for freedom.

The Battle of San Jacinto started at 4 o'clock on the afternoon of April 21, 1836. The Texan army consisted of approximately 800 volunteers under the command of General Sam Houston. The Mexican army consisted of approximately 2,000 professional, experienced soldiers under the command of Mexican President and General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. Santa Anna's army of hardened veterans had not yet been defeated in battle and even a few years before had defeated the French invasion of Mexico.

The battle began when the Texans, advancing in a single column, attacked the Mexican camp. They were fatigued, they were filthy, famished and fuming, but Houston was mounted on his white stallion leading the army. Armed with tomahawks, Bowie knives and long rifles, they went forward across the open marshy plain of southeast Texas. A Georgian Huguenot, a Kentucky colonel, and a Scotch-Irishman from Tennessee led the march across the tall grass and down upon a Mexican camp engaged in their afternoon siestas.

The pace was set by two unlikely characters that played field music as they marched. There was a German named Frederick Lemsky on the fife and a free black that, by all accounts, his name was Dick the Drummer. Two other musicians volunteered, but none of the foursome knew any marching music. They were only familiar with the popular music of the day. Therefore, Sam Houston, with a smile, had the foursome play ``Come to the Bower,'' a bawdy-house love song regarded as quite risque at the time. As the soldiers marched on to victory, they carried their banner, a flag of Miss Liberty consisting of a partially clad female proclaiming freedom.

The enemy was caught by a stunning surprise. The battle lasted 18 minutes, but the Mexican defeat was devastating. Only nine Texans were killed or mortally wounded. Six hundred thirty Mexican soldiers were killed, and the number of Mexican soldiers taken prisoner exceeded the entire number of the Texas army.

The battle cries of ``Remember the Alamo'' and ``Remember Goliad'' were the soldiers' calls for vengeance. This was a soldiers' battle, and they had scores to settle because they had lost brothers and friends at the Alamo and Goliad.

The heroes of the battle of San Jacinto were a diverse mix. The youngest soldier at San Jacinto was Elijah Votaw, a 15-year-old that had been in Texas for about a year. The oldest was Asa Mitchell, a 60-year-old who had been in Texas for about 14 years.

Captain Juan Seguin headed a unit of about two dozen Tejanos, people of Hispanic descent born in Texas, who fought in Houston's army and wore pieces of cardboard in their hatbands so fellow soldiers would not mistake them for the enemy.

If we want to credit the most unlikely of heroes, we have to acknowledge the Yellow Rose of Texas, Emily Morgan. Legend has it that Emily Morgan, the young, beautiful, racially mixed housekeeper who had been captured earlier by Mexican forces, is said to have been lingering with Santa Anna in his tent, causing him to be unprepared for the Texans' attack. Later Santa Anna, when he was captured, was found hiding in a well.

The battle of San Jacinto avenged the massacre of Texan soldiers at the Alamo and the murder of hundreds of Texans taken prisoner at Goliad and gave Texas its independence from Mexico.

Texas claimed the entire area from the Gulf of Mexico all the way to Canada, including not only the State of Texas, but New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming.

So General Sam Houston, his boys took the day, and they defeated the invaders and proclaimed to all, ``Don't mess with Texas.''

Mr. Speaker, every year a local radio station, KILT, with its morning crew of Hudson and Harrigan and top newsman in America, Robert McEntire, honor this day by playing a recording of a bunch of third graders from Tomball, Texas, singing the State song, ``Texas, our Texas,'' with an old, out-of-tune piano. It is because of the Battle of San Jacinto, Mr. Speaker, all Texans can sing along with pride, ``God bless you, Texas, and keep you brave and strong, that you may grow in power and worth throughout the ages long.''

When Sam Houston died some years later, his last words were ``Texas, Texas.'' And Mr. Speaker, the rest, they say, is Texas history.