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    Inaugural Texas Memorial Illumination at San Jacinto

    Inaugural Texas Memorial Illumination at San Jacinto

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Elizabeth Pena | Elected officials, key leaders from the Texas Military Department, and over 1,000...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. 1st Class Elizabeth Pena 

    Texas Military Department

    LA PORTE, Texas – Elected officials, key leaders from the Texas Military Department, and more than 1,000 volunteers gathered in La Porte on Nov. 13, 2021, during an event at the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site, to honor all Texans who have given their lives in armed conflict from the Texas Revolution through the war in Afghanistan.

    Inspired by the Antietam National Battlefield's memorial illumination in Maryland, this event marked a first for a Texas battlefield. Gina Manlove, event coordinator for San Jacinto Museum and Battlefield Association, explained the initial idea behind the low cost, high impact event.

    "We researched and found that the number of Texans who have died on battlefields worldwide is 21,500,” Manlove said. “So, we said let's do it at San Jacinto. There is no better place to talk about courage and fighting for our freedom than right here on the tallest war memorial in the world. This is where liberty was fought for our country. These 18-minute battles are one of the top battles in the world, and because of it, we were able to grow as a country from coast to coast."

    Beginning at 6 a.m. that morning, more than 1,000 volunteers placed and lit 21,500 luminaries, made of paper bags filled with sand and a candle, on the battleground site, representing the 21,500 veterans who lost their lives.

    "When you look out over our volunteers, it looks like America," said Manlove. “They are all different ages, different nationalities, and they have all stories to tell of why they are here. And all the luminaries have one story to tell, and that story is that freedom is not free. It is not free today, it was not free during the Texas Revolution, and it won't be free in the future."

    Following the sunset ceremony, the site opened to the public and offered a free drive-through for families to view the luminaries across the 1,300-acre site throughout the evening. This was the first time in history the site has been open to the public at night.

    "This is a beautiful day of remembrance, as the sun sets on your work today,” said state Sen. Larry Taylor, whose Texas Senate district includes La Porte. “I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving your time to honor those that have given so much.”

    "My hope tonight, that those who drive through here will see those lights, and it will burn into their memory what it takes to have the freedom that we have in this country,” said Taylor, a member of the Texas Senate Committee on Veteran Affairs & Border Security. “Let us go forth and do this every year, and constantly remind not just this generation but the generations to come."

    Texas Military Department representatives attended the event on behalf of the Texas Adjutant General.

    "I was so humbled to get the invitation," said Texas Air National Guard Brig. Gen. Matthew Barker, Chief of Staff for the Texas Air National Guard. “Before my current billet, my last duty station was a full-time commander in Houston. So, this is sacred ground to me. We've had staff rides here, we've walked this ground, and we all thoroughly understand the sacrifices that were made leading up to the battle of San Jacinto, at the Alamo, at Goliad. Those sacrifices have always inspired me to look back and try to redouble my commitment to this state, this country, and be worthy of those sacrifices those early Texans made."

    The monument was completed in 1939 to honor those who fought during 1836 and re-visualize Texas's history and the Spanish Southwest. It was created as a steward of history, and to promote friendship between Texas, Mexico, Spain, France and Latin America. Since its completion, the monument has been a symbol of community, pride, sacrifice, and honor. This event marked a new date in history and showcased all of the above.

    "Today was a great day for me to reflect on how lucky we are to be here,” Barker said. “We stand on the shoulders of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. I want to encourage everyone to come out and visit the sacred ground. You don't have to wait for Veterans Day or a holiday. Go out and thank our Veterans who are still with us and thank them for their service.”



    Date Taken: 11.13.2021
    Date Posted: 11.16.2021 13:09
    Story ID: 409365
    Location: LA PORTE, TX, US 

    Web Views: 152
    Downloads: 1