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Why a 180-year-old event from Texas history remains relevant today

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Professional headshot of Mark Lehman

04/26/2016 | Author: Mark Lehman

In Lehman's Terms

We do things a little different in Texas … we even have our own holidays. One such occasion was the discussion topic on my favorite drive-time radio talk show last Thursday. You may recognize April 21 as San Jacinto Day, the official state holiday commemorating the final battle of the Texas Revolution in 1836—the battle that secured the state’s independence from Mexico.

I was struck by one caller who said, “As a newcomer to Texas, I really cannot understand all the media attention given to this 18-minute battle. I have lived in seven other states and they don’t do this type of thing.”

That last statement got my attention because she’s right—other states don’t recognize their battles like Texas does. But that’s because other states don’t have the history of fighting for independence that makes Texas unique.

So, why should we continue to commemorate this event from 180 years ago? Here’s my take—in “Lehman’s” terms—on the relevance of San Jacinto Day today: It’s not just a day to celebrate a victory in battle ... it’s a day to celebrate Texas values.

It’s these values that entice hundreds of people to move to Texas every day. Corporations relocate because they like our business-friendly environment and stable tax structure. New residents appreciate that Texas doesn’t have a state income tax, real estate transfer tax, or tax on professional services, and homebuyers move here because the cost of owning a home remains low.

Texans have always had a can-do spirit that rivals most states and even other countries, and many people see the Battle of San Jacinto as the symbol of this spirit. A few hundred ragtag volunteers took only minutes to defeat one of the largest and most powerful armies in the world. Texas was born from the battle cries “Remember the Alamo” and “Remember Goliad” made famous at this fight.  

For the last 180 years, elected officials in Texas have maintained that San Jacinto spirit and determination when addressing the needs of our growing and ever-changing state. In fact, visitors to the Texas Capitol in Austin see firsthand that the chambers of the Texas Senate and House of Representatives are dominated by historic tributes to the Battle of San Jacinto.

The original 1836 San Jacinto battle flag hangs directly behind the speaker’s podium in the House chamber when the legislature is in session. (A replica takes its place between sessions to help preserve the flag.) And the artist Henry Arthur McArdle’s famous 1895 painting “Battle of San Jacinto” (pictured here courtesy of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission) is prominently displayed in the Senate chamber. Both historic treasures serve as daily reminders to current lawmakers of the important place they have in history.  

Although San Jacinto Day has passed this year, we don’t have to wait until 2017 to commemorate the occasion. We can honor our revolutionary heroes by maintaining the Texas spirit and taking pride in our state’s reputation for independence every day.

Mark Lehman is vice president of Governmental Affairs at the Texas Association of REALTORS®.

Categories: In Lehman's Terms
Tags: texas history, in lehman's terms

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