Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02)

Everything I know and love about the State of Texas, including what we stand for, is due in part to General Sam Houston. We’ve celebrated his victory over Dictator Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto for 175 years, and through the San Jacinto Monument, we celebrate his legacy as well.

We get our Texas pride from Sam Houston. Houston refused to be overrun by a dictator and fought for freedom and independence even when he was outnumbered 2 to 1. Houston’s army was an odd terrifying looking bunch. They were all volunteers. Instead of regular uniforms, they were dressed in buckskins, with pistols in their belts, bowie knives, long muskets, and tomahawks. They came from numerous states and Mexico. The Tejanos were hungry for independence. So as not to confuse these Tejanos with Santa Anna’s army, General Sam had Capitan Juan Sequin put a playing card in the head band of each Tejano so they could easily be recognized. The combat lasted but 18 minutes on April 21, 1836, but the legacy is timeless: Texas became a free, independent nation that day.

Houston and the Tejanos’ legacy lives on through an obelisk soaring into the sky and crowned with a 34 foot star, the lone star of Texas. Built in 1936, one hundred years after the battle ended, the San Jacinto Monument looks like the Washington Monument, but of course, it’s taller – 15 feet to be exact. Just like the Texas State Capitol is bigger than the Capitol of the United States. As a child, I stood before the Monument, amazed at its size– a staggering 570 feet. It really felt like everything was bigger in Texas. 

165 men built the Monument. The crew completed 6 feet of wall every day—an amazing feat when you consider the weight and height of the monument. Each stone weighed 500 pounds. (I’m sure the Ford Tough F-150 would have come in handy back then.) Weighing in at 70,300,000 pounds, the Monument is fittingly Texas big. Thanks to the crew’s hard labor, the San Jacinto Monument is now recognized as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.

This year, as we celebrate the 175th anniversary of Texas Independence, head east to those famous marshy banks of the San Jacinto to see the Monument and witness the telling story at the San Jacinto Day Festival and Battle Reenactment. We remember our past, knowing we were a nation once; and we have to smile knowing that sometimes we still act like an independent country.

The Texas that we know and love would not exist had General Sam Houston and his men been defeated in 1836. They came from most of the states in the Union and many foreign countries—and they were all volunteers. Always remember Houston’s Boys.

And that’s just the way it is.