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San Jacinto Day Celebrated On Site Of Historic Battle

Ceremony preludes this weekend’s Battle of San Jacinto reenactment and festival.

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The Deer Park High School ROTC color guard presents the flags during the San Jacinto Day ceremony.

Men dressed as Texian soldiers gave a first glimpse of what’s to come at the battle reenactment this weekend.

It was on April 21, 1836, that General Sam Houston’s army defeated Mexican General Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto, in modern-day La Porte.

Every year, the battle is commemorated with a ceremony at the battleground site, on the steps of the San Jacinto Monument.

Texas state historian Bill O’Neal gave a riveting 20-minute summary of the events leading up to the battle.

“At last the Texians confronted Santa Anna’s columns in a grassy marsh here at Buffalo Bayou and the San Jacinto River,” O’Neal said. “Houston encamped in a line of timber 700 yards from the Mexican camp, which was up there. Houston was in the timber down there beyond the reflecting pool – which wasn’t there yet.”

Larry Spasic is the president of the San Jacinto Museum inside the monument. He said commemorating the famous battle is important because it changed the history of Texas, Mexico and the United States.

“Each year this is our family state birthday party,” Spasic said. “And it reflects the sacrifices and the liberties and benefits that were won here on the battlefield. And in so doing, I think, it gives us a good perspective of where we were and how far we’ve come in a short period of time.”

Texas became an independent republic after the Battle of San Jacinto. A decade later, it became a U.S. state, which led to the U.S.-Mexican War. And as a result of that war, the United States picked up the states of California, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and parts of other states. It grew the country by one-third of today’s continental U.S.

Spasic said he would like more Houstonians to appreciate the historical significance of this battle.

“Certainly all Houstonians and all Texans benefit from the history of this place,” he said. “And we’re doing all we can to get as many people out here as possible, to the museum, to truly understand the significance of this historic event.”

Kay Martin certainly understands the significance. She’s a descendant of Thomas Jefferson Sweeney, one of the Texian soldiers who fought in the Battle of San Jacinto.

“Well, I think there ought to be more in the newspaper about San Jacinto Day,” Martin said. “And I think everybody that’s a Texan — of course we got a lot of people that live in Texas that are not Texans now, but there’s still enough of us left — that they ought to be proud of this. They really should.”

The annual battle reenactment takes place this Saturday at the grounds surrounding the monument. It will be part of a day-long family festival.

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“Texian soldiers” fire their rifles in celebration of San Jacinto Day.

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