WASHINGTON, March 2 -
Mr. Speaker, throughout history, people who have been abused by oppressive dictators have stood up and risked their lives in the name of freedom and independence.
Freedom fighters are the most powerful catalysts for change and their potential to alter history is unlimited.
This country knows the power of revolution better than any other. On July 4, 1776, after fighting for independence from Britain, the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence.
But there is another independence day that is not to be forgotten. For Texans, July 4th is not the only day to celebrate independence. This Friday, March 2, we will celebrate the 176th anniversary of Texas Independence.
Texas, a part of Mexico, had enjoyed the privileges of citizens under the Mexican Constitution of 1824.
Trouble started when Santa Anna became dictator of Mexico and abolished the Constitution and took away civil rights.
This led to the outbreak of revolution in October of 1835, both from Tejanos, Texans of Spanish and Mexican descent, and people from the United States.
Santa Anna with his three armies invaded Texas to put down rebellion. So on March 1, 54 Texians, including Lorenzo de Zavala, Thomas Rusk, Antonio Navarro and Sam Houston, gathered in the small village of Washington-on-the-Brazos.
Inspired by the American Revolution and the United States Declaration of Independence, the delegates drafted a Declaration of Independence overnight.
The declaration was signed on March 2 and the Republic of Texas was officially established.
As these determined delegates declared independence, Mexican dictator Santa Anna and several thousands of enemy troops closed in on an old beat-up Spanish mission that we now call the Alamo.
But Texas defenders stood defiant, stood determined. They were led by my hero, a lawyer by the name of William Barrett Travis who was just 27 years old.
The Alamo and its 186 Texans were all that stood between the massive army of invaders and the people of Texas.
The Alamo defenders who entered the Alamo on February 23, were a rag-tag group of relentless patriots, made up from nearly every state in the Union and 13 foreign countries, including Mexico.
Their ages were 16 through 67, at least 9 were Tejanos, and they were all volunteers. They were mavericks, revolutionaries, farmers, shopkeepers, and freedom fighters; and they came together to fight for something they believed in: freedom.
These freedom fighters held off an entire army of several thousand for 13 days. They would not relent.
During the bloody siege, Travis penned what would become the most famous letter in Texas history.
He said: “I am determined to sustain myself for as long as possible and die like a soldier who never forgets what is due his honor and that of his country.
“Victory or death.”
Unfortunately, Travis' call for help was not answered in time.
After thirteen days of glory at the Alamo, Commander Travis and his men sacrificed their lives on the altar of freedom and the Alamo fell on March 6, 1836.
Because heroes like Travis, Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie held out for so long, Santa Anna's forces took such great losses they became battered, demoralized and diminished.
Captain Juan Seguin and his company of Tejanos joined General Sam Houston who had the time he needed to devise a strategy to rally other Texas volunteers and defeat the invaders.
In the middle of the afternoon on April 21, 1836, General Sam and his boys routed a larger Mexican army yelling, “Remember the Alamo!” The rest is Texas history.
The war was over, and the Lone Star flag was visible all across the broad, bold, brazen plains of Texas.
Texas remained a nation for 9 years--some Texans wish Texas was still its own nation. Texas claimed land that now includes part of New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, Wyoming, even up to the Canadian border.
In 1845, Texas was admitted to the Union by only one vote when a Louisiana Senator changed his mind. By its admission into the United States, Texas may divide into five States, and the Texas flag is to fly even with the U.S. flag and not below it.
Texas Independence Day is a day of pride and reflection in the Lone Star State. This week we remember that Texas was a glorious nation once and won freedom and independence because some fierce volunteers fought to the death for liberty over tyranny.
Freedom has a cost. It always does. It always will.
And as we pause to remember those who gave their lives so that Texas could be a free Nation, we must continue to remember those Americans that are currently fighting in lands across the seas for our Nation.
There are freedom fighters all over the world today who are fighting the same fight against tyrants. It is history like ours that gives them hope for success.
Celebrate Texas independence today and pay tribute to all our Texas heroes like William Barrett Travis.
His legacy embodies the spirit of Texans that is so admired and envied all around the world today.
And that's just the way it is.