Texas’ first generation of heroes
This week mil lions of Texans gathered to pay tribute to gen erat ions of our bravest America ns – our vetera ns. These in clude d the you nge st ge ne ra- tion of veterans, many of whom are only recently retur ning from service in Afghan istan or Iraq, as well as the mil lion s of vetera ns who ser ved before them at ever y major turning point in our state’s history.
For Texa ns, some of our earlie st veterans made up the forc es that sec ure d our inde pe ndenc e from Mexico at the Battle of San Jaci nto.
In 1836, ju st weeks aft er the fal l of the Alamo and the Texas De cl aration of Independenc e at Wa shi ng to n- on- t he -Braz os , a group of Texa s volunteers gathered under the leadership of Genera l Sam Houston.
Few of them had militar y training and most carried thei r ow n per sonal weapons. Ye t toget her, t hey def eat ed t he muc h larger armyofthe Mexic andic tator Santa Anna. Their victory brought the freedom an d inde pe ndenc e that Texans enjoy to this day.
Today, in true Texas fashion, a bigger- than- life monument stands at the site of this historic battle. Th e San Jac into Monu ment is the tallest monument column in the world – surpassing even the Wa shi ng to n monum ent by 15 fee t— and topp ed by a massiv e 220 -ton Lone Star of Texas.
From its ob se r vat io n dec k— re ached by a 489 -foot ele vator ride— visitors can see the Houston skyline, the Houston Ship Chann el and the Bat tles hip Te xas . Atthebaseofthe monum ent is the ext remely well appointed San Jacinto Museum of Hi stor y –amust- see forhisto rybuffs and any Texans wanting to learn more about our rich culture and predec essors.
Th is month the San Jacinto Monument unveiled for the first time to the general public a historic wa x bust of one of Texas’ most iconic veterans and leaders – Sam Houston. The 33- inch- tall wax bust was sculpted by the same hands that fashioned the fa mous Mount Rushmore National Memoria l in South Dakot a – scu lptor Gutzon Borglum.
A lthough it has been in the museum’s col le ction since 1939, the sculpture has not been put on public display due to its fragile condition. Now, after a fourmo nt h cons er v at ion ef for t by museum staff, the newly stabilized bust was put on display as part of the museum’s year- long “Mak ing a Mark, Leaving a Legacy” exhibit.
In addition to the sculpt ure , the exhib itwillinclu de mor e than 300 artifac ts rang ing from 19th cent ury formu lations used by Texas pharmacists to diagnose diseases to Pressler’s Map of the State of Te xas, cons idered one of the state’s premier large- sc ale maps produced in the 19th century.
Those intere sted in seeing the ne w exhibit can visit w ww. sanjacinto- museum.org/ Visit_ Us/ Vi sit_ Us _ O ver v iew/ for hours and directions.
As we honor the generations of men and women who have fought to defend Texas, ou r nation and t he lib er tie s we cheris h tod ay, I am proud of ou r rich histor y of ind epe nde nce a nd su cc e ss . A nd I’m reminde d of the pow - er f ul word s of our state son g, “God bless you Texas! And ke ep you brave and stron g, That you may grow in power and wor th , Thro’out the ages long.”
Sen. Cornyn ser ves on the Finan ce, Judic iary, Armed Se rvices, and Budget Committees. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immi gration, Refugees and Border Security subcommittee.