Mr. Speaker, I rise today because this is a unique day in the history of the great State of Texas. Today, March 2, marks Texas Independence Day; and on this day 174 years ago, Texas declared its independence from Mexico and its dictator, Santa Anna.

In 1836, in the small farm village of Washington-on-the-Brazos, 54 Texians--as they called themselves--gathered to do something bold and courageous: they signed the Texas Declaration of Independence from Mexico and once and for all declared that the people of Texas do now constitute a free, sovereign and independent republic.

As these determined delegates met to declare independence, Santa Anna and his 6,000 enemy troops were marching on an old beat-up Spanish fort, a mission that we call the Alamo. There, Texas defenders stood defiant and stood determined. They were led by a 27-year-old lawyer by the name of William Barrett Travis. The Alamo and its 187 Texans were all that stood between the invaders and the Republic of Texas. And behind the cold, dark, damp walls of that Alamo, Commander William Barrett Travis sent the following letter to Texas requesting aid. Here is what this appeal said in part:

To all the people of Texas and Americans throughout the world