Mr. Speaker, the year was 1839 and thousands of families were looking to settle new lands for their families across the prairies and for the Ross family, Texas was where they chose to raise their young children. Lawrence Sullivan Ross was still an infant when they moved to Texas, and he grew up seeing just how wild the land of this fledgling nation was.
He was only eleven when he was involved in his first Indian fight, and through the years helped his father protect the area around Waco from attacks. Though he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and become an Indian fighter, as a young man he realized the need for an education and enrolled at Baylor University.
After graduation, he joined the Texas Rangers and quickly won favor among many of his superiors, including the governor of Texas, Sam Houston. Houston gave Ross the authority to raise a small militia and Ross spent the next several years fighting against Comanche raiding parties.
He only halted his service when the Civil War broke out. He fought in the Sixth Texas Calvary division and was promoted to brigadier general in 1863, and began commanding the Texas Calvary Brigade (later called ‘‘Ross’s Brigade.’’) While his health suffered during the war, Ross’s desire to serve the state that he loved stayed as strong as ever.
So instead of continuing to fight, his friends convinced him to run for public office. He served in the Senate for a full term, but later found that state politics were more agreeable with him, and ran for governor. Working hard to serve those around him, people would later describe his terms in office as ‘‘one of good will and harmony.’’
But it wasn’t until he left office that he started doing what he considered his greatest public service. After his last term finished as governor, he stepped right into his role as the new president of the small, failing Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas. Through his leadership the school was able to start growing again, and many new buildings were added on. Today that college enjoys its status as a world-class school, and goes by the name of Texas A&M University.
He passed away during his tenure as president in the then-small town of College Station. His love for the people of Texas was evident in all that he did. Whether it in the armed forces, up here on Capitol Hill, or paving the way for Texas’s next generation, he was always striving to serve his community. Mr. Speaker, I hope that every one of us here, regardless of our party or political stance, would take after his example, always viewing our time here as an opportunity to serve the great people of this nation.
And that’s just the way it is.