It’s San Jacinto Day, and if you’re looking for a new way to tell children the story of how Texas won its independence, you might take a field trip to the Texas Heroes Monument.
Countless people drive by the monument at 25th Street and Broadway in Galveston every day. Have you ever stopped to look?
The story is there.
A couple of years ago, Casey Greene, Rosenberg Library’s legendary historian, found an article by Meigs O. Frost, published long ago in The Daily News, that told how Henry Rosenberg commissioned the monument.
Rosenberg arrived from Switzerland just seven years after the Battle of San Jacinto, April 21, 1836. Rosenberg landed in Galveston as a teenager, speaking little English. Texas was a republic.
The young immigrant did well. When he died, Rosenberg was one of the wealthiest men in Texas. His will included $50,000 for the monument.
The monument has four bronze panels. They show:
• The defense of the Alamo. Can you see Jim Bowie, weapon in hand, ready to fire as the Mexican troops break through?
• The Goliad Massacre. After the surrender at Coleto Creek, Texian prisoners were marched out of the old Spanish fort and shot.
• The Battle of San Jacinto. That’s Gen. Sam Houston waving his hat to encourage the infantry. Deaf Smith, whose horse was shot out from under him, is on foot with a pistol, and Sidney Sherman, then a colonel, is behind Houston.
• Santa Anna’s surrender. Santa Anna, disguised as a private, appears before Houston, who is wounded and lying on a blanket under a live oak tree.
The monument includes four words that Rosenberg thought conjured up the best of Texas — patriotism, honor, devotion and courage.
Almost everyone knows that the 22-foot woman at the top of the four columns is Victory. At the time, the goddess was the second-largest bronze in America, behind only William Penn in Philadelphia.
Fewer people know about the figures at the base of the columns. That’s Defiance on the east side of the monument. She’s wearing a lioness’ skin and she’s ordering the Mexican army out of Texas. At her feet is the date that marks the start of the war, Oct. 2, 1835.
On the west side is Peace, with a sword in one hand and the republic’s coat of arms in the other. The date at her feet marks the Battle of San Jacinto.
On the north is a bronze medallion representing Sam Houston. On the south is a medallion representing Stephen F. Austin.
On the monument, you can find well-known names, such as Mirabeau B. Lamar, David Crockett and William B. Travis. You can also find lesser-known names, including George W. Hockley and J.C. Neill.
If you — or the children you’re instructing — get to where you know all of those, you’ll know some history.
That monument tells a story.